Airport Lanes, a bowling alley with more than a half century of tradition in the Wayland area, is facing some serious challenges, just as the high school bowling season is getting under way.
The bowling alley opened in 1948 and was owned and operated by Haven and Nyla Tarnutzer at the corner of 10th Street and 137th Avenue in Leighton Township. It now is in violation of a local zoning ordinance because its proprietor, Jack Templin, and his family are also using it as living quarters.
Leighton Township Fire Chief Tony Banas brought the issue to the attention of the Township Board earlier this month. There have been reports Professional Code Inspections, the ordinance enforcement administrator, is being contacted. There also have been unconfirmed reports of visits by the Allegan County Health Department.
Templin and his family are from Allegan. A number of mattresses have been reported seen inside the establishment, supposedly for use by Templin and his children, who are saving transportation costs driving to and from Allegan.
Templin also is reported to be suffering from health issues, and some observers say he is unable to perform proper maintenance on the facility.
Wayland varsity bowling coach Sherry Miklusicak, who grew up within walking distance of the bowling alley and who worked there during her high school years, said the lanes themselves are in good shape. However, Banas told the Township Board much of the remainder of the facility is in disrepair.
Just what will happen in the near future is not known, but Miklusicak indicated she and her team want to keep the place open at least for the season. She is welcoming 10 girls and 19 boys for the campaign, and one of the girls’ team members, Sydney Urben, was Division 2 state runner-up as a sophomore.
Miklusicak said she hopes Wayland Union schools can work out an agreement to continue for the season and beyond. Meanwhile, there are leagues rolling during weekdays and weeknights.
Haven Tarnutzer sold the business and building to Glenn Hayward, who later sold the bowling alley to Paul Swainston, who then sold it to Douglas Flick. Renee Sevigny and afterward the Templins served as proprietors. However, bowling alleys, much like golf courses, have been struggling to stay afloat financially in recent years. For example, the Hidden Valley Golf Course in the Shelbyville area had to shut down a few years ago and the bowling alley in Plainwell was shuttered.
Miklusicak said the only viable option for Wayland’s teams if Airport Lanes is forced to close is the bowling alley in Dorr, but there are serious concerns there about the condition of the lanes. Hopkins currently uses that facility.