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Letter – Save Fisherman’s Island

Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 7:00 am

Save Fisherman’s Island

We spend a lot of time at Lake Michigan beach even though we live in East Jordan. The picture from there is interesting with the mix of pristine waters, boats and oh yes, the big mountain of St. Marys Cement. A large operation for sure. With a big hole in the ground. Very big and now they want another one.

I would vote no if I had a say. State parks should mean something. It is everyone’s. And you would think it should be safe. Sorry but I still feel that some one trusted the state with the park in the first place and that should be respected. Where is the honor in this idea?

Charlene Roberts

East Jordan

Letter – Fisherman’s Island is a wonderful spot

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014 7:00 am

Fisherman’s Island is a wonderful spot


I am not a resident of Charlevoix, but I love that town. Fisherman’s Island is one of the places I go back to each time I am in town. It is an amazing and wonderful spot. I don’t understand how anyone could even have to think twice about this land swap! It is idiotic! What you will lose when you give into this company will never be retrieved. What hold does this company have over Charlevoix and what hold do they have over the Michigan DNR? Please do not take this land away from me and my grandchildren and future generations. Wise up people, there is something real fishy going on at Fisherman’s Island! Don’t let this corporation take away something so very beautiful!

Suzanne Ritchie


Letter – Keep Fisherman’s Island as is

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014 7:00 am

Keep Fisherman’s Island as is


Please let us keep Bell’s Bay and Fisherman’s Island as it is. Some of my fondest memories are of camping out there.

Cathy Griffore


‘Compulsory secrecy certainly does little to instill confidence’

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014 10:45 am


There is a disturbing note in your account of the meeting of the St. Marys community advisory committee’s meeting to discuss the swap of land in Fisherman’s Island State Park proposed by St. Marys Cement. (”St. Marys hosts closed-door land swap meeting,” 7-18-2014)

The representative of the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council would sign a contract not to discuss with the media a matter of such intense public interest is puzzling. Who is the contract with? What are the consequences of breaching it?

Compulsory secrecy certainly does little to instill confidence that the public interest is being protected.

Avern Cohn, U.S. District Judge, Detroit

LETTER: Closed-door meeting hard to believe

Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:17 pm


Congratulations on your coverage of said closed-door meeting. I can hardly believe, in this day and age, that such a meeting would even be attempted; and being that it did, an elected official of the County Board was in attendance (Larry Sullivan). In my opinion, his attendance was totally unprofessional and unethical. Also, another candidate for office was in attendance, and she should have recused herself from the meeting, as should have Mr. Sullivan.

There certainly are many unanswered questions in regard to this meeting.

Robert L. Harig, Norwood Township

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 7:00 am

LETTER: State park land not for trade


When St. Marys Cement’s proposal for a “Land Swap” was overwhelmingly rejected by people of Charlevoix, St. Marys Cement changed tactics. The “swap” proposed would remove Bells Bay Road and strip-mine approximately 190 acres of land within the Bells Bay Campground of Fisherman’s Island State Park, in exchange for St. Marys Cement property in Norwood Township.

St. Marys Cement announced it would form a committee of “respected” citizens to work for a “win, win” solution. St. Marys Cement accepted most volunteers and solicited people for their committee. They hired a facilitator. The committee meetings are closed.

Most members of the committee believe that talking and compromise are good. Most have a wish list. Boat launches, concrete pads for motor-homes, horse trails, showers, keeping mining of out of Norwood etc.

Going to St. Marys Cement for park amenities is like going to a bull for milk. St. Marys has no ownership of Fisherman’s Island State Park. This is not their call.

St. Marys hopes to acquire the most popular, most used, accessible part of Fisherman’s Island State Park. Almost half of the Bells Bay Campground forest would be strip-mined. The proposal to move the park entrance miles south to Norwood Township and to mine Bells Bay County Road, takes away access to the public overlook, trails, the link to Lake Michigan for the new lake to lake trail and brings strip-mining to the backyards of all the campsites in the first two loops. Trading Fisherman’s Island State Parkland for electricity promises is silly.

St. Marys Cement’s desire for the minable portions of Fisherman’s Island State Park has not changed since its “2011 Concept.”

St. Marys Cement should be honest about what it wants. Save Fisherman’s Island did a poll that can be viewed on Facebook. Of 85 respondents only 3 stated that they would consider the concept.

We love Fisherman’s Island State Park. We wouldn’t trade it for anything!

JoAnne Beemon


The secret meeting injustice

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 7:00 am

It is a terrible injustice to our democracy when foreign corporations meet in secret with our elected officials. The recent report by the Petoskey News-Review of a “secret meeting” with almost two dozen attendees between Canadian owned St. Marys Cement, local elected officials, the DNR, and Tip of The Mitt Watershed Council members is an example of closed-door lobbying by a foreign corporation to gain political influence. By signing a confidentiality agreement to not disclose their discussions before attending the meeting they have already sold out to St. Marys Cement.

St. Marys proposed “land-swap” concept involving publicly owned Fisherman’s Island State Park has garnered a resounding no from a wide cross-section of residents, visitors and others concerned with protecting both the environment and natural assets of Charlevoix. I won’t ignore the positive economic benefits of St. Marys payroll and spending, but cement plants are not innocuous neighbors. St. Marys has a Type III hazardous waste disposal license on file with the DEQ. After 20 years of remedial environmental cleanup by CMS of the old Penn-Dixie plant at a reported cost of $179 million dollars, Bay Harbor still seeps pollutants into our environment.

There are a few reasons why a group of people do things in secret. It is either to hide illegal activity or because they would be ashamed if their words or decisions were made public. To all those attendees identified in the article, those Charlevoix area elected officials and especially the DNR and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council members, I say “Shame on you.”

Carl Muscott

Indian River

Letter – Fisherman’s Island State Park belongs to us all

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014 7:00 am 

I just finished reading your article, “Work starts to complete Sleeping Bear Dunes Trail,” in the April 14 edition. How ironic that a beautiful bicycle trail is underway along our National Lake Shore that, according to facilities manager Lee Jameson, “is the first trail in the lakeshore that provides multi-use capabilities,” and will be great for biking and sightseeing.
Meanwhile, Fisherman’s Island State Park, which lies just south of Charlevoix and contains some of the most scenic and beautiful vistas, camp sites, dunes and trails — not to mention flora and fauna — is under siege by the St. Marys Cement Plant. All in the name of bigger profits do they seek this pristine lakeshore and park and in exchange, swap for land farther south that pales in comparison. St. Marys operations manager Dirk Cox said: “I’m not going to listen to popular opinion only.” One needs to “only” omit the last word of his quote to know where he and his company stand on the matter.
Native Americans (which I am one-eighth) are not the only folks who hold sacred the earth. A person doesn’t love a place just because he lives there. He or she loves it because it is theirs. Fisherman’s Island State Park is all of ours. My fourth grandchild was born today. It is his now as well.
John F. Murdick

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014 3:00 pm


The St. Marys Cement Plant and the Fisherman’s Island State Park are deciding whether they should swap land. The land swap is where St. Marys would swap some of their land for some of the Fisherman’s Island State Park land. Some people think that the two places should switch and others think that they shouldn’t switch land. I don’t (think) they should switch the land. I have three reasons that will persuade you to have the same opinion as I do in the next paragraphs.

Of the three reasons, the most important to me is citizens in Charlevoix and even people farther away use the trails and the park as it is. My dad runs on those trails and every summer we go with friends and run on those trails. Other ways we use the park is with presentations. I’ve gone on field trips to see a group release an owl. Some animals live in that area. You hear about rain forests that the animals have nowhere to live because all of the trees are gone. If St. Marys gets what is now our beautiful park, they will turn it into a quarry. Then, all the animals that live there now will have to move. I think people use the park enough in its current condition that we should be able to keep the park.

Another reason is that after the land swap the main entrance would be farther out of town and it wouldn’t be used as much. If the entrance is out of town, people won’t be able to find it and the park will be used less than it is now. Even if citizens know where the entrance is they won’t travel there because it will be a farther drive.
If the swap was made the park wouldn’t be as pretty. If they do the land swap the trails on the park land will be very close to the St. Marys land so there will be a quarry on on side and a forest on the other. Then it won’t be as pretty as it is now on the all-wooded trails.
If they do the land swap it will be a waste of time. I think that because we have a perfectly good park and a perfectly good cement plant. I hope you take my opinion into consideration.

Annie Bergmann, Charlevoix fifth-grader, Kari Maki’s class

LETTER: State park land swap no small matter

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 9:30 am


I just finished reading the article, “State park land swap reviewed by city,” in the Friday, March 14, edition of your paper. What jumped out at me was the passive-aggressive tone of Mr. Dirk Cox, operations manager for St. Marys Cement, (quote): “I’m not going to listen to popular opinion only.”
One has to “only” omit the last word of that statement to know where he and his company stand on this matter. And no small matter it is. All in the name of bigger profits do they seek this most precious piece of land that generations of folks — both local and visitors — consider to be, dare I say, sacred. A person doesn’t love a place just because he lives there. He loves it because it is his own. It is ours. All of ours. And it should be our grandchildren’s grandchildren’s, as well. Thank you.

John Murdick, Cheboygan (formerly of Charlevoix)

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 3:00 pm


Please, St. Marys, leave Fisherman’s Island State Park alone. It was created as a park for a reason — to protect it! Swapping other land for it destroys it. Do not invade it, swap for it, dig under it, go through it, or go over it.
My family first came to Charlevoix for summers in 1883 and visiting the park has always been something my family has enjoyed. It was bad enough when the cement plant built on the land they’d owned there since the 1930s. That already has made getting to the park less direct and destroyed a scenic way to get there. The enjoyment of the park by many — human and otherwise — should not be sacrificed for St. Marys’ financial benefit.

Janet E. Peters, Plainfield, Ill.

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 7:00 am

State park is a great resource for the people

For more than 60 years, Fisherman’s Island Recreational Area and State Park has been a magnificent resource for Charlevoix, the people of Michigan and all who visit there.
Thanks to the State of Michigan, we now have five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and secluded wooded area that is a unique part of Charlevoix and Charlevoix Township.
I have lived in Charlevoix Township since 1970, and like so many of my neighbors, we and our children have spent summers there, swimming, camping, hiking and biking. Fisherman’s Island is a part of their heritage. They grew up with an understanding of the natural resources we have in our back doors.
For those of us who live here, Fisherman’s Island is a jewel; a playground that must keep its entrance on Bell’s Bay Road. The entrance and northern 190 acres must not be allowed to be given away.
A “No” to St. Marys Cement Company’s land swap proposal will send a message to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that the north sector of the park and entrance on Bell’s Bay Road is too important to us to trade away.
Fisherman’s Island State Park is a special place that deserves a “No” on the land swap with St. Marys Cement Company by the city council members.

Jerry Puhl

Posted: Saturday, March 8, 2014 11:40 am


St. Marys Cement has worked for two years lobbying the road commission and governmental bodies with no input from the public, hoping to influence the state to give them possession of the northern portion of Fisherman’s Island State Park.
Dirk Cox of St. Marys tells us that St. Marys does not need more limestone, they have more land, land zoned for mining and other options. Local jobs are secure.
Being able to close and mine Bells Bay Road and the 190 acres of state land on either side of it, would allow St. Marys to consolidate their two pits into one gargantuan pit, running from the city limits, several miles south into Norwood Township. It is good business to cut off public use of the northern end of Fisherman’s Island State Park and to take state park land.
What would the public lose?
No. 1: Bells Bay Road to Lake Michigan, the last bridge, through St. Marys enormous quarries, to our state park
No. 2: Access to the overlook of Lake Michigan or to the free parking at the end of Bells Bay Roa
No. 3: The most popular year round trail access
No. 4: Exactly 190 acres of rich, beautiful Fisherman’s Island State Park forest for mushrooming, dog walking, cross country skiing, nature hikes and more
No. 5: Access to Fisherman’s Island State Park from the new Lake-to-Lake Charlevoix multi-use trail — a $285,000 grant will complete the trail To Bells Bay Road this summer — and years of collective work of local governments, Charlevoix County Community Foundation, the Grand Traverse Band, St. Marys Cement, WATCH and citizens
No. 6: About six of our favorite campsites
No. 7: The woodland buffer that protects the camps from mining noise
No. 8: Access to the magnificent shale outcroppings and fossils into Lake Michigan
No. 9: Convenient, close access to the park — the current access at Bells Bay Road is close enough to grab a sandwich in town, eat it and get back to work
No. 10: We would lose OUR favorite place
And what would we gain?
No. 1: A 35 acre, 3,000 foot section of McGeach Creek, an area that has been mined to the maximum
No. 2: A 185 acre, mostly scrub shrub parcel
No. 3: A new entrance, parking lot and campground, five miles south that we never asked for nor wanted
We cannot sell, swap or give away our Fisherman’s Island State Park. St. Marys is ill-advised in asking to mine out Bells Bay Road and the surrounding 190 acres of forest. We hope St. Marys will withdraw its request. Go online to Save Fisherman’s Island State Park organization’s Facebook page.

JoAnne Beemon

Save Fisherman’s Island State Park

Posted: Saturday, March 8, 2014 11:37 am


This letter serves to express my family’s strong opposition to the proposed “land swap” between St. Mary’s Cement plant and any portion of Fisherman’s Island State Park. Bells Bay Road provides not merely a convenient entrance, but leads directly to a long-cherished spot for hiking, picnics and sunset views — marred only since Charlevoix allowed a cement plant to be constructed directly along its vista in the first place.
I offer two photos (attached) from among the dozens taken annually during our multi-season visits to Bells Bay. How many other young boys and girls have climbed that wonderful old tree reaching out toward Lake Michigan from its perch at the mouth of Bells Bay Road?
We count four generations now in my family alone. Note that this particular picture was taken in 1958, but we continue to visit that very spot — and even that same old tree — every summer.
Tourism is still a core industry for Charlevoix, yet I doubt that includes easy-access tours of the cement plant. There are many far more practical and solid environmental reasons for opposing the encroachment of the cement plant on this property, but I’m not ashamed to also add my sentimental perspective to the argument.

Janet Kohler Dueweke

Fairfax County, Virginia

Charlevoix summer resident

Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014 7:00 am

St. Marys proposed land swap

WATCH is very much concerned with the proposal by St. Marys Cement to swap land near the south end of Fisherman’s Island State Park for state park property at the entrance to the park.
The land near the entrance to the park is heavily wooded, has high quality wildlife habitat, varied terrain and hiking trails and is heavily used for many nature-related purposes. The land that would be exchanged is mostly open and flat and has only scrub brush.
If the swap occurs, land that is now a part of the state park would be clear cut and mined, and a huge berm would be placed between the mine and the campground. Also, 190 acres of the highest quality part of the park would become part of an expanding quarry. The wooded area of the park would be much smaller, and the buffer from mining activities much less. The section of Bells Bay Road that extends to the park and the current entrance would be lost. Road access to the beach at Bells Bay would be lost.
The proposed Lake to Lake trail scheduled for construction in the spring will be an asset for everyone. If the swap occurs, the trail would no longer go to Bells Bay and the current entrance to the park. The trail would be rerouted around the quarry and/or along the highway. It would be a far longer distance to Lake Michigan.
For these reasons, WATCH is opposed to the land swap. We ask that the Charlevoix City Council and the Charlevoix Township Board vote to oppose it. We feel that the Lake to Lake Trail should proceed as planned and become a source of pride for both the City and the township.
The public hearing on the land swap is March 10 at the Charlevoix Township Hall at 7 p.m.

Bill Henne

Vice President of WATCH

I oppose the proposed land swap between St. Marys cement plant and Fisherman’s Island State Park.
No. 1: Bells Bay Road going to the beach, hiking trails and the park entrance would be closed. This portion of the park is close to Charlevoix and is heavily used by hikers, skiers, hunters, mushroom seekers, Charlevoix High School cross country team members, sunset watchers, beach-goers and snowmobilers. Closing this road would take away local and free access to the park, trails and beach. Moving the park entrance farther south, as is proposed, would make it more difficult for residents and families who want to use the park after school or work.

No. 2: The proposed bike trail to Fisherman’s Island State Park on Bells Bay Road, which is schedule for construction this spring, would have to be moved several miles south.

No. 3: The 190 acres of land extending on both sides of Bells Bay Road to be given to St. Marys is heavily wooded and is home to a diverse array of wildlife.

No. 4: The land St. Marys wants to trade is not comparable. Most of it is a flat field. Its distance from Charlevoix means less access to Charlevoix residents who want to use the park after work or school.

The north end of Fisherman’s Island State Park, including Bells Bay Road, is a valuable asset to our township and community. Do not trade away our woods, local access to favorite hiking trails, Lake Michigan beaches and the future bike trail.

Anne Zukowski, Charlevoix

Letter – St. Mary’s Cement proposal for Fisherman’s Island State Park

Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 3:03 pm

After my first visit to Charlevoix, I immediately retained a Realtor. I fell in love with the natural beauty of the area and purchased a lovely house here. I made significant improvements to my property and often rent my house to friends.
I urge you to reject the St. Mary’s Cement proposal:
1) The park’s accessibility is a huge draw for tourists, campers and local families. Moving the entrance four miles away will discourage visitors. As awareness and appreciation of the park decreases, this treasure will receive less support and protection.
2) Charlevoix business will lose revenue generated by campers and visitors.
3) Devastates wetlands, endangers wildlife with the loss of habitat and eliminates recreational trails and the quarry buffer.
4) Halts the development of the Lake to Lake Trail, sacrificing another asset and accompanying economic stimulus.
5) Exchanges an irreplaceable asset for a far less desirable parcel. Sand dunes and scrub brush in a relatively remote location cannot compare to a heavily wooded forest in 200 acres of primitive habitat, easily accessible to residents and visitors alike.
Nothing in the proposal generates value for Charlevoix Township or remotely compensates for the loss of the land. And the improvements by St. Mary’s simply make the park more attractive for visitors who will spend time and money in Norwood Township.
This proposal is a lose-lose-lose deal from every area of impact: economic, appearance, tourism, recreational, nature conservancy, historic and reputational.
In essence, Charlevoix Township would surrender an invaluable piece of its history, character, economy and community — in exchange for an undesirable parcel in Norwood Township. How could good stewards agree to that?
Tina Stoeberl
Cincinnati, Ohio

LETTER: Land exchange only benefits cement plant

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 8:33 pm


I see no reason at all for any land exchange here, other than the benefit of St. Marys cement plant.
Fisherman’s Island State Park is 2,678 acres of untouched land that provides a number of outdoor activities for families of Northern Michigan and tourists from all over. With 81 rustic campsites, a three-mile cross country hiking trail, five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and seasonal hunting.
This (proposed) land exchange benefits absolutely no one other than St. Marys, and may be an inconvenience to citizens of Charlevoix having the entrance moved to Norwood. It does not seem reasonable to ravage any portion of the beautiful 2,678 acres of raw nature Fisherman’s Island State Park has to offer.

Brian Hammond Jr., East Jordan

Letter: Save the entrance to Fisherman’s Island State Park

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 8:15 am

The article in the News-Review dated Dec. 20 outlined the proposal St. Marys Cement Company made to the Charlevoix Township Board.
St. Marys Cement has a plan to trade property they own on the south side of Fisherman’s Island State Park for state park property at the entrance of Fisherman’s Island State Park.
What this would mean is:
1) We would lose the road that leads to the beautiful beach on Lake Michigan at the entrance to the park and the wooded area on both sides of this road. Bells Bay Road would only go to St. Marys Cement plant.
2) Wildlife would lose close to 200 acres of habitat.
3) The hiking trails and cross country ski trails on both sides of the road would be lost.
4) The buffer that the most sought-after sites next to Lake Michigan now have, would be lost. A cement quarry would be within several hundred yards.
5) The entrance to Fisherman’s Island State Park would be moved from just outside the city of Charlevoix on Bell’s Bay Road to five miles south of Bell’s Bay Road on Clipper View Road.
6) The Lake to Lake Trail that St. Marys Cement, the city of Charlevoix, Charlevoix Township, WATCH and others have worked toward completing would be lost. The trail goes from Ferry Beach on Lake Charlevoix to Bell’s Bay Road. The trail is to be used for hiking, biking, cross country skiing and snowmobiles.
7) The land that St. Marys is trading has sand dunes, scrub brush and wetlands. It is not the quality of forest the entrance to the park now sits on.
8)Campers would be reluctant to travel to Charlevoix to shop and dine because of the extra distance in travel.
The next presentation by St. Marys Cement to the Charlevoix Township Board is 7 p.m. Monday, March 10. If you don’t want to have a beautiful park of Fisherman’s Island destroyed, mark your calendar and attend this meeting or express your feelings by writing or calling the Charlevoix Township Board members, as Fisherman’s Island is a special place that deserves careful attention and thoughtful protection.

Jerry L. Puhl
Charlevoix Township

Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013 2:08 pm | Updated: 7:21 am, Sat Nov 2, 2013.


I am responding to the ‘No fracking here’ article which appeared in the Oct. 18, 2013, Charlevoix Courier. Every resident of Charlevoix County should look at Google Earth at St. Mary’s plant in Charlevoix. Do we really want any more of our shoreline and county given over to this environmental mess? The berms along the highway and road into Fisherman’s Island State Park disguise the complete destruction of all green. Fisherman’s Island State Park is a place where people come and bring their families or just enjoy lunch in their car. A land swap?
Please no more,

Linda D. Weston, Charlevoix

2 Responses to Letters

  1. Stephen LaJoice says:

    Love those corporate public relations buzz words. “Advisory Committee, looking for opportunities, exploring risks, remain flexible on boundaries and structure, looking for compromise, identify the issues.” No matter what the words, the bottom line there is a land swap in the making and St. Mary’s is pulling out the stops to get what they want. If we sit back and wait for a recommendation from the Advisory Committee then we will have no one to blame but ourselves for the loss of land. The advisory committee does not speak for me, I did not sign an agreement to keep quiet. So, write those letters, contact your representatives, speak up and help save a precious piece of Bells Bay.

    • JoAnne Beemon says:

      You are absolutely right. St Marys (Votorantim Group) is doing the best they can to improve their bottom line. It would seem that our loved Bells Bay Campground, the oldest and most used and best part of Fisherman’s Island State Park, is in danger. But the State cannot just give it away. They are responsible to follow the law to protect the recreational value and use of the Park. We need to let the State know that we love our park and would not trade it for ANYTHING!

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