Volunteers rebuild Cherry Beach staircase

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 4:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2020 at 6:21 PM EDT
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CHIKAMING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WNDU) - What do you do when you get knocked down?

You get back up.

That’s what’s happening in the battered beach community of Harbert.

Last January, high water levels and waves on Lake Michigan destroyed a staircase that provided access down a steep dune to Cherry Beach in Chikaming Township.

Because of the lay of the land, it’s not a typical do it yourself project.

“When we were working on the hill it was difficult going because you’re always sliding down. We had to use a rope system so we could get back up the hill,” said Joe Sipek who is leading a group of volunteers in the rebuild.

Sipek raised more than $6,000 through a GoFundMe page.

“The park board was hesitant to spend money after the last set of stairs kinda slid down the dune when the dune kind of slid down the hill,” he said.

Just because they’re all volunteers doesn’t mean they’re all amateurs.

The bottom of the new staircase is anchored by 12 inch PVC pipe filled with cement, while at the top there’s a cable system with earth anchors.

Joe retired as the chief engineer at a nuclear power station

Dan Menitoff is an architect who finds himself working through his summer vacation.

“We need stairs, we need a beach to vacation, so that’s why,” he said.

At a point in time when little in life seems normal, perhaps it’s the perfect time to put a beach back within reach.

“It just gets you back to feeling like things are similar to how they’ve been in the past,” said Sipek. “I mean, you know we’re all wearing masks but we can still go down to the beach so it’s kind of a, it makes me smile.”

This project is expected to be finished by Aug. 1.

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