The Hillsdale Rotary Club will soon com­plete the Sandy Beach project at Lake Baw Beese.

According to Richard Moore, project chairman of the Rotary Club com­mittee for the Sandy Beach project, the last stage will bring changes to the park entrance and landscaping.

“The final phase involves moving the park entrance away from the beach. This will create more green space and promote a safer traffic flow around the park,” Moore said. 

The Rotary club began fundraising for phase five in 2019 and raised nearly $100,000, according to Moore. All of this funding will be spent in the last phase.

“We will also be adding more trees and other land­scaping improve­ments in early 2022,” Moore said. 

Phase four took more than four years to com­plete because of dif­fi­culties with COVID-19, according to Moore.

In the spring of 2022, a cel­e­bration is planned for the com­pletion of the Sandy Beach Project.

The Rotary Club first began pro­viding outdoor areas to the Hillsdale com­munity when the club paved the Baw Beese bike and walk trail. 

“After that, we decided that we wanted to do some­thing more that the public would help support and use,” Moore said. “The park back then was neglected and needed to be ren­o­vated, but the City of Hillsdale, who own the land and park, didn’t have the resources to make the improve­ments. The Hillsdale Rotary Club decided to take on this project knowing it would be a long-term project and would take a con­sid­erable amount of time and money.”

In 2010, ren­o­va­tions began at Sandy Beach. The Hillsdale Rotary Club has been funding the project ever since.

Phase one was com­pleted in 2011, which created a new beach with 650 tons of new beach sand and added new tables and a new walkway. Phase two ren­o­vated the con­cession building in 2012. Phase three was com­pleted in 2014, and created a new play­ground area at the beach, which the com­munity installed. Phase four improved the sand vol­leyball courts and created a new bas­ketball court in 2017.

“Over $425,000 has been raised and spent during the last 12 years,” Moore said. 

This money was donated from both busi­nesses and indi­viduals, according to Moore. Among the donors for the project are Bill Brodbeck and Steve Higley, who are affil­iated with the Hillsdale Board of Trustees. Brodbeck retired in 2019, and Higley cur­rently serves on the board. The Hillsdale Hos­pital also donated to the project. 

“We wanted to make a place for everyone, a place for the com­munity, stu­dents, and faculty of Hillsdale College to use,” Moore said.

Junior Marie Heck­linger, who grew up in Hillsdale, said she appre­ciates the work that has been done at Baw Beese.

“I’ve been going to Baw Beese since I was a kid and it’s a great place to meet up with friends,” Heck­linger said. “It’s a really fun place to make memories.”

Sophomore Anna Bassols also said she enjoys spending time there.

“As a college student, it’s such a nice break from campus,” Bassols said. “I love that we have a place we can go to just get out and do some­thing dif­ferent and active.”