Authors: Troy Anderson, Clay Hagen, Michelle LeBlanc, Virginia Vander Veen, Michigan State University
The primary goal was to create elements of a Beach Master Plan for the Lake Michigan Beach in Frankfort, including improvements to Cannon Park. The plan addressed parking, pedestrian flow, signage, structural improvements, restroom facility location, sand control, and aesthetics in order to enhance and expand the Frankfort experience and the city's already strong tourism industry.
Project Updated As Of September 30th, 2013
Frankfort is located in the Northwest portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan, in Benzie County, and is a popular tourist destination in the summer months. Frankfort thrives on tourism with only 63.8% of the homes used as permanent residences. A team of four Michigan State University students in collaboration with the City of Frankfort Superintendent Joshua Mills, over the course of the 2013 Academic Spring Semester, created a Frankfort beach infrastructure assessment study.
The team worked with Frankfort to create elements of a Beach Master Plan for the Lake Michigan Beach as well as undergo improvements to the roughly 200,000 square foot Father Charlevoix "Cannon" Park. Goals for the project included improving signage, structural improvements, improved restroom facility location, a control on sand blowing, and aesthetics in order to enhance and expand Frankfort's already strong tourism industry.
The City of Frankfort has moved forward with nearly every recommendation from the MSU practicum report. Improvements are bring performed via budget control, procuring grants, and securing funds through crowdfunding. The MSU study results were rolled into an updated Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the City of Frankfort. The city has established a committee that is made up of members of their Planning Commission, Recreation Board, DDA and City Council in order to further investigate the Lake Michigan Beach area and Cannon Park. The primary discussion incorporates the recommendations provided in the MSU practicum report. In 2014 and 2015, Cannon Park underwent a complete landscape renovation project with a sidewalk constructed brick paver surrounding the cannon. Also, the summer of 2015 was the inaugural launch of the bus shuttle service to minimize the parking issues throughout the Main Street corridor. The bus shuttle service will continue through 2016.
The Cannon Park Improvement Project experienced capital outlay improvements that totaled roughly $25,000. The city has also discussed the possibility of placing a central pay parking station at the beach turnaround. They have also finalized a location for a new public restroom on the beach and in Cannon Park and are in the process of facilitating a design and cost analysis as they move forward.
Updated signage at the beach is currently in the process of being developed and there are plans to expand the signage to include historic interpretation and "Explore the Shore". The historic interpretive and "Explore the Shore" will provide more information associated with their maritime history and importance of preserving Michigan's natural resources.