Park Preps For Busy Season

ST. MARYS — Sunny skies and calm waters brought a slew of boaters and campers to Grand Lake St. Marys State Park for the holiday weekend.

“It was a good weekend,” Park Manager Brian Miller told The Evening Leader. “The campground was at 90 percent occupancy, which is the best we’ve seen since Memorial Day weekend. Boat traffic was well above what it was — we had people tubing, skiing and people using boaters’ beaches for swimming. There also was a lot of fishing, having picnics and people enjoying the area.”

Officials issued four citations for operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol as well as a handful of other alcohol-related citations. Miller said visitors need to be mindful of the alcohol policies on the lake and in the campground.

“There were no injuries or incidents from them,” Miller said. “We have to keep in mind alcohol and water do not mix. While I appreciate there are numerous establishments on the lake that serve food and drink that can be accessed by boat, people have to obey the rules and you have to have a sober skipper. You also cannot consume or overtly display alcohol on state park property and the lake is state park property.”

With the holiday behind them, Miller said park staff will begin tackling maintenance and housekeeping items around the park. While Labor Day is two months away, Miller said the summer will remain busy with a handful of festivals and events that are expected to draw crowds to the lake and park.

“The Celina Lake Festival, which is July 22-24, will be busy,” Miller said. “There will be fireworks on the lake. On Saturday night, we had Freedom Days and it was a good, safe event, which many people came out to see.”

The Governor’s Cup Regatta, scheduled for Aug. 26-28, also will mean a busy weekend for the lake. Miller said the various festivals throughout the summer add to the park’s occupancy.

“Will it fill the campground, no,” Miller said. “But it does bring occupancy to the campground.”

Some changes to the facilities at the campground loom on the horizon. Miller said under a master plan, the facility will go from five restrooms and two showerhouses to one restroom and three showerhouses.

“We will bid out a new restroom at the campground for fall, winter and spring construction,” Miller said. “We will have it open for next camping season.”

Other steps in the long-term project will be plotted out during the next rounds of capital funding. Miller noted the park received two grants for projects — a $25,000 one for lighting at the St. Marys Boat Club launch ramp and Frey’s launch ramp and a $50,000 grant for the expansion of the courtesy ramp at the campground.

“We’re moving forward,” Miller said. “The state is making an investment — it just made a $3.4 million investment in alum and new investments in lighting and for ramps.”