Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel dreams of making Lake St. Clair a popular recreation destination and tourist attraction.
Waterfront campgrounds and more beach fronts were among the ideas Hackel proposed during the Anchor Bay Chamber of Commerce Business by the Bay luncheon Thursday in downtown New Baltimore.
"How come we don't have a Navy Pier like we see in Chicago?" he asked the crowd of professionals and community leaders.
After all, Hackel says, the county boasts 31-1/2 miles of coastline that is even drawing the likes of a nationally televised Bass tournament. He criticized the media for focusing on negative aspects of the lake known for having contaminants or beach closings due to E. coli.
"This lake is, without a question, a clean, healthy lake," he said. "Macomb County has a really vibrant main stream running through it and it's called the Clinton River."
Besides a coastal trail and signage along waterfront communities--New Baltimore, Chesterfield Township, Harrison Township and St. Clair Shores--the county is promoting the lake through the Make Macomb Your Home initiative.
And, there's no better time to capitalize on the waterways than now because the county has gained an average of 19 new residents daily since January, Hackel said. That comes on the heels of Macomb being the fast-growing county in Michigan, with an average of 14 new residents a day, he said of 2010 Census figures.
Hackel encourages businesses to get involved with improving and promoting the lake. He stressed additions, such as a casino or marina, along the water would have to come from the private sector and not from the county purchasing land.
New Baltimore Mayor Larry Smith said after the speech that he would like to see kayaking and canoeing launches in the city. He also pointed out that community officials are waiting for federal government approval for a public harbor along Anchor Bay.
"Obviously, we're a waterfront community and we would like to expound on it as much as we could," Smith said.