To highlight the resources available and being improved for county residents, Ottawa County Parks Department staff took members of the County Board of Commissioners and Parks & Recreation Commission on a tour of parks along the river tied into the proposed Grand River Greenway.
Ottawa County Parks manages more than 2,000 acres of land with 12.6 miles of river frontage, and is expanding protected lands and public access to them. A long-range goal is to provide a paved greenway trail linking these properties and adjacent communities.
“I think it went well,” Scholtz said of the tour. “I think we had some good questions and we had a good number of commissioners out, which was good.”
Among sites visited by officials on the bus tour were Connor Bayou, Riverside Park, Eastmanville Bayou and farm, Grand River Open Space, and Grand River Ravines.
Scholtz said that while the groups often meet and discuss the parks at board meetings, seeing them in person offers a different perspective.
“Once you experience that, you can appreciate it,” he said.
According to Scholtz, these sites along the greenway will become more used by the county in the coming years.
“I think there is going to be a lot more interest and a lot more public use of people seeking out experiences on the river, and we’re going to help with that,” he said.
Work on the Grand River Greenway segment of parkland comes at a time when county park officials have already done most of the work on developing park sites along the coast of Lake Michigan. They now have their sights set on the river.
“We are five years away from having most of the key lands acquired,” Scholtz said, adding they are 5-10 years away to having paved trails linking the Grand River park properties together.
In the short term, they have quite a few projects ready to get people using parks along the river.
At Connor Bayou in Robinson Township, officials are beginning a project that will eventually bring kayak access, fishing, picnic areas, nature trails and a remodeling project at an existing log home for rentals.
Additional projects at Eastmanville Farm, and the Grand River Ravines site in Allendale and Georgetown Townships are expected to round out the projects on the immediate radar.
Officials also plan on developing a site along the Grand River in Georgetown Township called the Bend Area.
For more photos of the tour, click here.