Proposed boat leases, to-go alcohol sales at popular East Grand Rapids restaurant draws backlash

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The owner of Roses Restaurant on Reed’s Lake is requesting permission to offer 12 pontoon boat rentals, historic tour boat trips, and take away liquor sales.

Greg Gilmore, whose company owns The BOB and several other restaurants in West Michigan, made the request to the East Grand Rapids Planning Commission. In a letter to the city on March 17, he said adding the rentals at Rose’s 62-slip jetty “would increase the opportunity for everyone to enjoy Reed’s Lake”.

However, the proposal has met with resistance from residents.

Don Condit, a surgeon who lives on Reed’s Lake, says the prospect of 12 additional pontoon boats sailing on the lake is a safety hazard.

“The lake is already full many times, and adding 12 pontoon boats is a bad idea,” he said.

Gilmore declined an interview request.

He first presented the idea in March 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit Michigan just then, the proposal did not go beyond the review phase.

Documents submitted to the city do not include a cost or a timetable for the proposal.

Gilmore presented his idea to the planning committee last week, City Manager Shea Charles said. No action was taken as the presentation was aimed at introducing members of the commission to the concept and allowing Gilmore the opportunity to answer questions, he said.

“I think the biggest concern was the size and possible speeds of the boats,” said Charles. He noted that there were also questions about whether the boats would be rented to anyone with enough experience to operate them safely.

Charles said the next step would be for Gilmore to take feedback from the commissioners, formulate a response and bring the proposal back to the commission for formal consideration. Gilmore did not indicate at the meeting when he would bring his proposal back to the commission, Charles said.

“Several residents have raised some concerns about the potential rental business,” said Charles.

In addition to the rentals, Gilmore has suggested adding a fuel pump to the boat chutes behind Rose. He also suggested adding a 40-foot to 60-foot historic tour boat, reminiscent of the SS Ramona steamship that sailed on Reeds Lake between 1923 and 1954.

The boat docks behind Rose, 550 Lakeside Dr. SE, can accommodate about 60 boats, said Charles.

Gilmore’s letter to the city states that if his proposal were approved, he would use four of his marina receipts for boat refueling, four temporary boat receipts, 12 boat rental receipts, and 42 seasonal rental receipts.

Gilmore has indicated that Tommy’s boat dealer would oversee the pontoon rental and provide training to each renter. He said his proposal did not call for any expansion of Rose’s boat docks.

Condit, the resident who expressed concern about Gilmore’s proposal, said his rejection of the development was not based on an attempt to restrict public access to Reed’s Lake.

“It is already a community resource and not only people who live by the lake can use that resource,” he said. “There is a lot of access to people who live in the greater West Michigan community.”

He suggested the additional pontoon boats could pose a risk to other boats, children tubing on the lake, as well as kayakers and other paddlers.

“It’s a dangerous business,” he said. “There are larger lakes that can accept and tolerate parties on pontoon boats. But this lake cannot. It’s already full. “

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