NRTH may seek funds for pavilions

ALPENA – The Negwegon, Rockport and Thompson’s Harbor Advisory Committee could seek funds for these two state parks and state recreation area to build open-air pavilions.

Committee members discussed at their Tuesday meeting whether the organization would have more clout than if the friends groups for each sought the funding on their own, NRTH Secretary Jeff Shea said. It’s part of a shift for the committee now that its original task is completed. The committee will lay out its new mission as it works to renew its charter with the Department of Natural Resources, set to expire in April.

When formed in 2009, NRTH was intended primarily as a way for the public to weigh in on the management plans for the two state parks and the DNR’s Rockport property, yet to be turned into a state recreation area, Shea said. Now that these management plans are complete, some members wondered what the committee will do next.

“There were people in the committee who said, ‘We’re wasting our time, let’s disband,’ but there were more people who said, ‘No, we’re getting good people in here each quarter, let’s keep going,'” he said.

The focus likely will be on promoting these destinations, and working with friends groups for each one, Shea said.

The idea for all three pavilions is to serve as a gathering point, Eric Ostrander, Negwegon and Rockport supervisor for the DNR, said. They could be used as outdoor classrooms for local schools and students working with Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative programs, and for weddings and family reunions. By renting out the pavilions for the day, they also could bring in revenue.

“Basically, the pavilions would be available to put on events and anything that would draw people out there,” he said.

Friends of Thompson’s Harbor State Park wants a pavilion near the trailhead parking lot, located at the end of the park’s main entrance drive, Shea said. Along with his position with NRTH, he’s also a member of the park’s friends group. Blake Gingrich, the park’s supervisor with the DNR, directed him to a website showing different pavilions so they can decide what they’re looking for.

Rockport State Recreation Area also could use a pavilion, Friends of Rockport/Besser Natural Area President Carol Grochowski said. The group isn’t sure where, but it likely would be located near either the boat launch at the south end of the property, or near the Besser Natural Area at the north end.

The DNR has friends group grants that could be available to build the pavilions, Shea said. To apply for a Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, they’d have to partner with local governments. Otherwise, local organizations that provide money for community projects are the most likely source.

Ostrander is urging those who may have drifted away from the NRTH committee to attend its April 29 meeting, where members and the DNR likely will work on the committee’s new charter. It’s set for 7 p.m. at the Presque Isle Township Hall, 12653 E. Grand Lake Road.

“We want to try to get together, and maybe come up with a new direction and new goals in general for the group,” he said.

In other business:

* the DNR will coordinate with local emergency responders to get them emergency response plans for Rockport, Shea said. The issue came to a head after a recent snowmobile accident in the recreation area, where first responders had a hard time reaching the scene.

* NRTH held officer elections, and Patrick Pokorski will continue as committee chairman, Shea said. Grochowski will be vice chairwoman and Shea will continue as secretary.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at