Letter to the Editor
My family built a summer cottage on Torch Lake back in 1970. Being raised in the Metro Detroit area, I had never seen lake water so clear and beautiful. I considered myself to be extremely fortunate to have access to one of nature’s finest creations. Our family, along with countless friends and relatives, have had the opportunity to spend quality time on this wonderful lake for forty-five years now.
However, like many others on the lake, we’ve become totally disgusted by the evolving situation taking place at the south end of the lake, specifically the sand bar. This gorgeous strip of hard white sand has become a huge Holiday Partying Site. Even though our property is almost two miles away, we still have all sorts of nasty things floating ashore after the weekends and the holiday partying sessions. It never used to be this way. There have always been small groups of people, mostly families with kids, who park their boats along this sand bar and spend the day just peacefully enjoying the water and the outdoors. We noticed a big change in the quantities and attitudes of those using the sand bar however, after a local radio station began to promote the area. In fact, I saw a banner attached to a local business indicating that even further promotional efforts are being made by “Bud Light”. There were between 7-10 thousand people using this site over the recent July 4th holiday. Most of these people are considered as “Walk-on’s”, as they don’t live on the lake or have a boat to launch. They just drive to the lake and walk onto the sand bar, usually walking through private property to access the water.
The issue isn’t that these people are using the lake. The lake should be shared by as many people as possible, as it is such a rare find. The problem relates to the overcrowding numbers of people and their careless behavior.
There is common open nudity, open fornication, fights, intoxication, injuries and arrests. This has become a place where families and lake residents firmly avoid. I can’t imagine how disrupting these events must be for the people who live along that stretch of shoreline.
I recently spoke with an attorney about a law that I’ve always thought to be applicable in situations like this. This law; as it has been described to me, apparently assigns ownership of the lake bottom to the Riparian Property Owners, in a pie shape, from their lake frontage to the center of the lake. This same attorney says that the law is rarely enforced however, as local law enforcement departments prefer to let the civil courts handle the problem.
If our family property was located directly along that sand bar, I would be knocking on every one of my neighbors doors asking them to join me in a class action suit. I would bring suit against the local radio station, and Bud Light, for being instrumental in diminishing my property values. I would also bring suit against the Local Townships for not properly funding their law enforcement needs on the lake and for not responsibly choosing to bring the situation under control. I would also petition the local road commission to deter non-resident holiday parking within five miles of the area.
In closing, I feel that the lake should be accessible to everyone, not just the local residents. But those fortunate enough to venture onto the lake still have a responsibility to behave themselves and not cause issues for others. They shouldn’t leave bad feelings and a littered mess in their wake every time they come. I feel that if the holiday sand bar access were to be heavily restricted for two or three consecutive years, it just might break this cycle and allow the area to go back to its more normal usage pattern.
Torch Lake, Michigan