Homeowner balks at Walters Lake plan

Homeowner balks at Walters Lake plan

BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer

Joanie Bachor doesn’t want to see more change in Clarkston.
Last month, the Independence Township Parks, Recreation and Seniors Department (ITPRS) received a partial grant from the DNR’s Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for a Walters Lake property development including public beach, fishing, pavilion, and other facilities.
“I have been an owner to lakefront property since 1957,” said Bachor. “At that time, it was little cottages and few people. Now there are beautiful, large, well-kept homes. As owners, we pay extra taxes to keep the lake for our enjoyment. We pay to have the weeds kept under control and to have fish replenished every so often. We care.”
The parks development is not necessary, she said.
“There are parks within a few miles from here – Friendship Park, Clintonwood Park, and Independence Oaks. So you think we need another? These parks are well used in the summer months, with many sports activities and lots of traffic on the roads going to them,” she said. “Public access to Walters Lake will bring too much traffic to a small residential area. On a Sunday morning, I will be trying to get out of Eston to Clarkston Road, where there is a large curve, with people trying to get to the park. Accidents waiting to happen.”
If and when the property is acquired, the project would be compliant with all local lake association and DNR guidelines of being stewards of the property’s environment, said ITPRS director Derek Smith.
“Our intent is to preserve the open space for the public and protect it from future development,” Smith said. “The potential park may be the only option the property has in remaining a ‘natural area.’ We have no intention of increasing watercraft traffic on Walters Lake, and have publicly stated it would never build or operate a boat launch within the park.”
There are no private lake surfaces in Michigan, he said.
“All the water surfaces are owned by the state. If there are no public access points on the lake, then only those with riparian rights can gain access,” he said. “Walters Lake is currently surrounded by private property, therefore, there are no public access points. If the township purchases the farm, certain accesses could then be allowed.”
Bachor said this move could put residents and wildlife at risk safety-wise.
“Speaking of accidents, one boy almost lost his life while swimming on the lake years ago when there were just a few boats,” she said. “I own a small motorboat and a pontoon boat. Are you going to change the law to say ‘no motorboats’ and I, again, cannot enjoy my lake? We do not want more people on the lake, just that plain and simple.”
The area should be left as natural as possible, she said.
“Please give this some thought and pretend this was your lake. Don’t just see dollar signs and money in the city hall’s pockets,” she said. “I certainly hope our next choice is not condos or apartments. That is not a good answer either.”