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75-acre gift could set stage for new rec space

Alex Doty • Jun 13, 2018 at 2:00 PM

A potential gift of nearly 75 acres to Grand Haven Township would have an effect on bolstering recreational opportunities in the area.

The Township Board on Monday night unanimously approved conceptual plans for Schmidt Heritage Park, which would be located between Ferris and Lincoln streets, just west of the Cutter Park subdivision.

“We’re looking at the property just across from Hofma Park & Preserve,” said Jamie Walter, senior landscape architect for Nederveld Inc. “It’s just under 74 acres — 73.95 to be exact.”

The township is working with property owner James Schmidt regarding the potential land donation and acquisition. Nederveld designers recently worked with the township’s parks board to create concepts for the site.

“The Parks & Recreation Committee’s conceptual plan for the Schmidt Heritage Park was the final condition regarding the proposed gifting of this land to the township,” Township Manager Bill Cargo said.

The township will now begin work on completing a final draft of a land donation agreement with Schmidt, completing a cost estimate for the proposed recreation development and amending the township’s Parks & Recreation Plan to include the Hofma Vision, Schmidt Heritage Park and the Witteveen farm property.

“Phase 1 of the land acquisition would occur when the land donation agreement is finalized,” Cargo said. “I am confident that this could occur within the next few months.”

Included in the conceptual plan are two baseball diamonds, two softball diamonds, two youth baseball diamonds, three youth soccer fields, four multipurpose fields, 12 pickleball courts and a 1.5-mile jogging path. There would be parking around the property totaling 516 spaces, and restrooms would also be scattered around the site.

The plans show a driveway that would run the length of the site, north to south, connecting to Ferris and Lincoln streets. Township officials say the driveway would be designed in a way that prevents people from using it as a shortcut between the two roads.

The Schmidt property doesn’t stretch all the way from Ferris to Lincoln, so Township Supervisor Mark Reenders will have discussions with a property owner to the south to acquire access to Lincoln, Cargo noted.

“From a planning perspective, I consider access to both Ferris Street and Lincoln Street to be critically important to the proper development of the proposed Schmidt Heritage Park,” Cargo said. “I am confident that acquisition for a drive onto Lincoln Street can occur.”

The Schmidt Heritage Park also provides the opportunity to change concepts drawn up in the Hofma Vision for the recently acquired Wolf property adjacent to Hofma Preserve, and also allows for areas of the Hofma Park to be “reprogrammed” for other recreational uses. Concepts for the Wolf property in the Hofma Vision include adding several irrigated multi-sport fields, an irrigated baseball field, pickleball courts, playground, hiking trails, wetland boardwalks, pavilion and restroom facilities, enhanced parking areas, new signage, and various landscaping enhancements. 

Walter recommends moving the ball field and sporting elements envisioned for the space to the Schmidt site, and change the focus of the Wolf property to nature education and interpretation. He also recommends the existing and proposed playgrounds and the Hofma and Wolf property be merged into a single location at the Wolf property for a large play site. He also proposes that the possibility of softball and baseball fields at Hofma be relocated to the space at Schmidt.

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