2018-06-07 / Front Page

Port Austin chamber hosts annual community meeting

By John Bonke
Staff Writer • jbonke@mihomepaper.com

PORT AUSTIN - The historic gymnasium building, dating from the 1930s, could be used as a central, focal point for the community of Port Austin. 
Photo by John Bonke PORT AUSTIN - The historic gymnasium building, dating from the 1930s, could be used as a central, focal point for the community of Port Austin. Photo by John Bonke PORT AUSTIN - A lot has been happening in and around the Village of Port Austin and a lot more is planned.

About 100 gathered at Bird Creek golf club in Port Austin on Wednesday, May 23 to hear the third annual community meeting presentations. Chris Boyle, chamber of commerce president, who served as the evening’s emcee, said the focus is on “Where do we go from here?” and “What is the vision 1 to 10 years out?” He added that the overall purpose is to “keep moving forward.”

Several community projects are in the works or in the planning stages and Boyle said that the Port Austin area benefits from “a ton of great community volunteering.”

Boyle also said the Master Plan projects are “specifically tailored to Port Austin” and “pretty incredible.”


Angie Stoutenburg-Alaouie and Sarah Straight presented information about the splash pad. Tentative plans are to have it located at Bird Creek Beach. The 1,500 square-foot facility would be “a safe way to cool off” and organizers are looking for ways to use Lake Huron water. The next steps include a site review and researching a long-term lease with Huron County.


Jane Goddeeris presented information about the fitness park feature at Veterans Memorial Park on land from the Village of Port Austin. She said equipment had arrived and cement has been poured.

“We’re so excited about it,” she said.


Terry Boyle spoke about possibilities for the gymnasium building, which was completed in 1938. He said some want to see it used as a central, focal point for the community of Port Austin and used for meetings and other functions. Boyle said organizers have gotten estimates for heating, lighting, window and masonry work. He said the next step is looking into fundraising ideas and grant opportunities.


Bob Buckley said the Village Green project, offering small specialty retail shops in downtown Port Austin is looking to add a shade sail to enhance the space. He said the units are an affordable transition for vendors whose next step would likely be purchasing a more traditional brick-and-mortar location.


Steve Penn reported on the progress of the mountain bike trail at the Huron County Nature Center. He said a 5-mile trail has been mapped out and organizers applied to the state for a wetland survey delineation, which passed. Penn said the next steps are to file for a permit and then meet with state officials. He said the effort is an attempt to offer the best way to hike and bike in a natural area.


Dennis Cook said work continues at the Grindstone Harbor and organizers there are looking into the possibility of a kayak ramp. He added that they are also looking into the possibility of restoring the site and keeping a sense of its history.


Terry Ross and Steve Penn said more than 20 performers or bands are lined up to be live on-stage at each farmers market this season. They said they purchased the stage from the City of Harbor Beach and also bought a public address system, microphones and speakers.

They said they want to make Port Austin “a musical destination” and noted it is only about two hours from Detroit.


Peggy Miller said the Saturday, June 23 Port Austin Porch Fest III will play out on 20-plus porches in the village. She noted that the musicians volunteer their time and talents for this event.

“Porch Fest has grown incredibly,” Miller said.

Miller also said organizers are looking into the possibility of having a TAT Bus shuttle during Porch Fest III.

She added that about a dozen of the musicians will also be featured at various Port Austin dining establishments as well.


Speaking on behalf of Lou Schillinger, who was unable to attend the presentations, Rousseaux said planners are looking into the possibility of having a bridge from the Bird Creek area to the state harbor area. He said the effort includes the local Lions Club and tentative plans are using 2020 as the goal.

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series.

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