Developers are calling it "The Docks" and it’s a new, 240-unit upscale housing project that would theoretically lie between Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake. While the City of Muskegon has publicy backed the project, nearby residents are voicing thier opposition to the build, arguing that the new neighborhood will permanently alter the character of the surrounding, historical area.
That is just one of a number of concerns residents have raised over "The Docks," however, Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson says, the new homes are an opportunity to attract new residents to Muskegon. Something he says is critical, if the city wants to continue to grow.
“It's really important that we find new opportunities for new housing and new people, and just new opportunities for people to come into the community,” Peterson said. “And this is part of the community that is viable, that is attractive, and it is important to us that we have places like that for people to invest.”
By "us," Peterson means, is the Muskegon City Commission, who this past June approved "The Docks" developmental plans.
The project would be built on what is left of Pigeon Hill, a sand dune mined during World War 2 for metal castings, the remnants of which lie north of the city’s Bluffton neighborhood, a quaint little community on the west side of Muskegon Lake. It’s here that Ben Evans lives, and he along with many other Bluffton residents say, "The Docks" will not only destroy what is left of the sand dune, but of their very way of life.
“Throughout the process, we have been told that this is a good thing for Muskegon, for the community of Muskegon,” Evans said. “And yet we are the residents of Muskegon, we are the taxpayers of Muskegon. And are certain, completely certain, that this is not a good thing for us.”
Tomorrow, in Part 2 of this story, I visit Bluffton and the old Pigeon Hill sand dune to speak with the residents who oppose "The Docks," as they raise a series of concerns over its development, the environmental impact it will have on Muskegon Lake, the dangerous traffic it could create, and the loss of Bluffton’s identity, one of Muskegon’s oldest neighborhoods.