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400-ton pavilion will be moved from eroding Michigan bluff

Grand Rapids Press

Manistee – A historic 400-ton pavilion that offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan will be moved away from an eroding bluff after a mudslide and high water levels last year threatened to destroy the structure.

The pavilion, which was built in 1940s at Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee Township, is a popular northern Michigan venue for weddings, family reunions, concerts and more. It features a picnic shelter, original restrooms and picnic tables, and two fireplaces, MLive.com reported.

Fortifications at the bluff’s base are only a temporary fix for dealing with the relentlessness of Mother Nature, which officials say would claim the building. The decision to move the structure came this summer after discussions began last fall.

“It’s hard to fight Mother Nature,” park superintendent Doug Barry told MLive. “The best way to save that building is to move it away from the shoreline.”

The structure currently sits about 50 feet (15 meters) back from the bluff’s edge.

Barry has said that the $1.5 million relocation project, which will be funded by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the park’s savings, is cheaper than armoring the bluff.

The pavilion will be moved to the park’s day-use area, which is safer and more accessible, Barry said. But he noted that the views of the lake won’t be as impressive.

Barry said the move, which is expected to happen in December, will take one or two days. Prep is underway, and the park campground was closed for the project on Oct. 19.

Gabion baskets – stones in wire netting – are set at the base of the bluff to slow the erosion, but they are failing because waves have eroded the sand beneath them, causing them to collapse, park officials said.

Along with the park, the pavilion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. That means maintaining its current exterior appearance at the new location is vital, according to a Facebook post by the park.