Lambros Beach Park on its way to development with beach house, kayak launch

MARQUETTE – The proposed Clark Lambros Beach Park along Lakeshore Boulevard is getting closer to becoming a reality.

The Marquette City Commission Tuesday unanimously voted to accept terms of a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund land acquisition project agreement regarding the proposed park.

The city will receive a grant not to exceed $1.44 million for the park, which would include shoreline along the Dead River and more than 1,000 feet of Lake Superior frontage.

The MNRTF is a restricted fund to be used for public land acquisition for outdoor recreation and resource protection as well as projects for public outdoor recreation.

Michele Butler, owner of Vango’s Restaurant in Marquette and long-time partner of the late Clark Lambros, who also owned the restaurant, is donating the city’s matching fund requirement of $506,000 to be used toward park development. The park will be named for both Lambros and his son, the late Clark Lambros Jr., she said.

Butler said that before the death of the elder Lambros in December 2012, the family discussed looking at a donation to the city to create a park in memory of his son, Clark Lambros, Jr. “Hence, with Clark’s passing and with his blessing and his hope, we as a family decided that we wanted to continue down this road, of creating the Clark Lambros Beach Park,” Butler said.

Originally, the family wanted to simply donate the land, she said, but it was decided it instead would apply for a Trust Fund grant in which the fund would purchase the property to create a park for the city, with the family supplying the 26 percent fund match.

Park amenities are expected to include a beach house and parking on the east side of Lakeshore Boulevard and a kayak launch and more parking on the west side with access to the Dead River and Lake Superior. Trails as well as riparian and wetland enhancement also are part of the project.

The footprint for the beach house, she said, is about 60 feet, which will include amenities such as restrooms, a pavilion with picnic tables and outside showers.

The kayak launch also will be for universal use.

The goal is to prioritize the project as the Trust Fund dollars come in, she said, with the family’s long-term plan the establishment of an endowment so the park continues in perpetuity.

Project consultant Bill Sanders said the family is negotiating for additional property to take the Hawley Street drain that goes into Lake Superior and move it so it travels north, working it into the wetlands along the Dead River.

The accessible kayak launch, he explained, would include a telescoping transfer bench, allowing someone in a wheelchair to get in and out of a kayak.

Although the agreement the commission approved Tuesday was for 9.3 acres, Butler said it is hoped the park eventually will be about 15 acres in size.

She said the process to develop the park will include appraisals and a 40-year title search.

Commissioner Don Ryan complimented the Trust Fund being involved in the project versus the land being donated.

“You know, the fact is, as wonderful an opportunity as this is, the city just does not have the money to go out and build a new park, especially a park that’s going to be as outstanding as this is.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.