Local News

Bracing for COVID Weary Visitor Surge

(New Buffalo, MI) - The City of New Buffalo is getting ready for what could be an extremely busy summer because of COVID-19 restrictions loosening from people getting vaccinated.


The city’s Transient Marina Office, west of the Whittaker Street bridge, is being repaired after damaged by fire on August 28th.  Most of the repairs are focused on the bathrooms, showers and laundry area which suffered the heaviest damage.  City Manager Darwin Watson said the fix involves mostly hanging drywall and electrical work.


Watson said it’s taken this long for the repairs to start because of delays caused by COVID-19 and the untimely passing of former City Manager Dave Richards, who died from complications of the virus in December.  “We were told it will be done by Memorial Day,” he said.


The office portion of the building where permits for slip rental are issued suffered just  minimal damage and reopened shortly after the fire.  The cause of the fire was blamed on an overheated fan in the ventilation system for the restrooms, officials said.  The parking lot at the public boat launch was also resealed to extend the life of the asphalt.


Watson said other things happening to get ready for summer involved more routine things like raking of the sand at the public beach.  The proposed rebuilding of Dunewalk just east of the public beach concession stand has not started as originally anticipated.  Last year, the city was hoping the estimated $450,000 project would start before Memorial Day.  Watson said the work hinges on grant dollars and not all of the grants being sought have been decided.


Dunewalk, a popular long term fixture at the beach, remains closed because of hazards like broken steps too dangerous to walk on.  The new Dunewalk will be handicapped accessible with ramps made of wood, instead of stairs, for people to navigate from one end to the other.


Watson said it appears the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions has people flocking to the lakefront and downtown like never before, perhaps, this early in the month.  “If that’s any indication, it’s going to be a very busy summer season,” he said.

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