Whitefish Point Parking Controversy

The unjustified political manipulation of our government by the GLSHS is no better illustrated than in what happened regarding Traffic Control Order P 17 -101-95. In 1996, it suited GLSHS interests to have a ban on road-side parking near their property.Chippewa County Road Commission minutes show that GLSHS requested a Traffic Control Order prohibiting parking along the last 0.4 mile of Whitefish Point Road. The State Police complied and issued the order and "No Parking" signs went up along the road. By 2002, the GLSHS was trying to get the township to acquire a nearby piece of property for use as a park (though GLSHS just wanted nearby parking for its museum customers). Then the township deal fell through--there would be no nearby"park" for GLSHS parking. It was now no longer in the interest of GLSHS to ban parking alongside the road. The "No Parking" signs mysteriously disappeared. The Traffic Control Order went unenforced. As if that weren't enough, Traffic Control Order P 17-101-95 seemed to disappear from the books! Not even requests through the Freedom of Information Act could get the Road Commission or State Police to acknowledge the existence of Traffic Control Order P 17-101-95. Then, somebody in state government, accidentally sent a copy to Whitefish Township and a member of the public got a hold of it before anyone in the corrupt township government thought to bury it.

Now, after citizens demanded that this order be enforced, traffic citations were issued on one day in October 2007. GLSHS, feeling victimized by the enforcement of the Traffic Control Order made possible by their own manipulation of our government, has lashed out at the public who have given them so very much in the way of money, property, and favors. GLSHS is currently involved in a campaign to manipulate the township government into supporting a 1 acre parking addition on our state land near GLSHS property. They have threatened to put up a gate, charge admission to use the parking lot currently at Whitefish Point, and even turn away people who are not paying GLSHS customers. Is this what Congress expected when they gave GLSHS control of the public property at the Whitefish Point light station? The person who phoned in the complaint was placed under arrest for "trespassing" on property the public turned over to GLSHS and is currently on trial. The Chippewa County government is spending considerable resources to see that GLSHS can ban citizen watchdogs from accessing the site and uncovering corruption, much of it involving the County government. This is the same county government that sees nothing wrong with funneling our gas tax dollars to GLSHS to restore buildings and visit shipwrecks, and even socks it to their citizens when GLSHS is found to have been awarded money improperly.

So, what to do on those occasions when there isn't enough parking at Whitefish Point? The best long-term solution is tram service from Paradise, a solution widely recognized by many parties, but treated with indifference by GLSHS. In the short-term, prominent "No Parking" signage should help tourists obey the Traffic Control Order and ensure public safety, and in fact this has been ordered by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

If there are days when some visitors must head back to Paradise without stopping at Whitefish Point because they couldn't find a parking space, those people will enter Paradise with more time and money for businesses in this struggling town. In an ideal world, there would have been prior planning for parking before GLSHS over-commercialized Whitefish Point, and expanded beyond the carrying capacity of the site, but the corruption of government at many levels, and apparent political manipulation by GLSHS has prevented this.

It is important now, to see that their 2002 "Human Use/Natural Resource Management" plan, with its call for more GLSHS expansion, and its many loopholes, NOT be incorporated into federal law, as GLSHS has been lobbying for. The lawsuit and the resulting Settlement Agreement that produced the plan states that GLSHS will NOT acquire a new parking lot, but that is exactly what GLSHS intends to do, having the township government do their dirty work for them.
With gas prices as high as they are (augmented by the federal gas tax, which includes money for GLSHS to re-visit shipwrecks!), the "parking problem" is not at a crisis level requiring wholesale destruction of forested acreage to indulge GLSHS expansion wishes.

Overview of Whitefish Point Parking 1987 - 2008:

The Chippewa County Road Commission constructed two parking lots at Whitefish Point. The first parking lot was constructed on U.S. Coast Guard property in 1987. The second lot was constructed on State of Michigan property in 1994. GLSHS funded the parking lot built in 1987 with two sources - 1) a DNR Coastal Zone Management grant awarded to Whitefish Township and administered by the GLSHS (the Road Commission was listed as the contributor), and 2) Federal Highway money that the Chippewa County used to resurface the county road from Paradise to Whitefish Point.

The GLSHS 1994 position statement about Whitefish Point parking agrees with the Road Commission claims that the Whitefish Point Road cul-de-sac is a county road turnaround although there is no record for a road easement on the former Coast Guard property to the Road Commission. (Also see page 22 the Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point.) The National Historic Preservation Act and the National Transportation Act Federal Highway require formal reviews on projects that occur on historical sites such as the Whitefish Point Light Station. These required reviews of the parking lots at Whitefish Point were never done because the U.S. Coast Guard and the State Historic Preservation Office were not aware that the GLSHS and the Road Commission were coordinating these projects. Michigan's State Historic Preservation Officer later concluded that the paved parking lot at Whitefish Point is an intrusion on the historic resource because there is no evidence that the Whitefish Point Light Station ever included a developed parking lot. The State Historic Preservation Officer recommended mitigating the adverse effect of GLSHS's proposed museum expansion by removing the existing parking lot at Whitefish Point and moving it off site. In spite of claims of 2:1 habitat mitigation in their latest plan, there is ZERO mitigation planned for the loss of habitat by increasing parking space immediately off-site. (See page 48 of the Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point.) As mitigation for the construction of the Multipurpose building in 2000, the GLSHS was supposed to complete a parking and traffic management plan. The parking and traffic management plan to mitigate for the adverse effect of construction for the Multipurpose building was still not completed by the beginning of 2008.

Home | About Us | Whitefish Point | Edmund Fitzgerald | Public Access | FAQ | How You Can Help | Terms of Use

© 2008 www.whitefishpointwatch.com. All rights reserved , E-mail: [email protected]