GHT chips in $15K for new play space

Alex Doty • Jan 24, 2018 at 1:00 PM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Grand Haven Township has joined the effort to help build a new Imagination Station play space at the city’s Mulligan’s Hollow recreational area.

On Monday night, the Township Board allocated a $15,000 contribution to the Reimagination Project fundraiser, which is in the midst of a $500,000 fundraising campaign for the new play space.

“We’re elated,” project co-chairperson Chris Streng said. “It really parallels the support we’ve seen in the greater Grand Haven community.”

The township’s contribution matches the $15,000 that was initially given by the City of Grand Haven.

“We’re really excited to see how our community comes together and gets things done,” Streng said.

Katie Appold, co-chairperson of fundraising for the project, noted that the community effort will be made up of donations that range in size from $2 contributions from area children to large donations from municipalities and corporations.

“It will serve our residents and it will serve our tourists,” Appold said of the new play space. “It’s what Grand Haven should have.”

Appold said project representatives intend to speak with both Spring Lake Village Council and the Spring Lake Township Board about making contributions to the campaign.

“I think it is great to be a part of this and support it,” Grand Haven Township Trustee Howard Behm said.

Behm said the Imagination Station is a great way for families to bond and spend time together outdoors.

“We can’t imagine how many children and young adults have been on this thing,” he said.

Township Treasurer Bill Kieft, who wasn’t present for Monday night’s meeting, submitted a letter with the board sharing his concerns about the contribution. In the letter read by Township Manager Bill Cargo, Kieft questioned how fiscally responsible the contribution would be. In part, he noted that township residents pay taxes to the township with the expectation that money will be spent on projects and needs within the township.

“I appreciate the letter that Bill Kieft wrote, but I do not endorse it,” Trustee Cal Meeusen said. “I can appreciate what he’s saying about the residents of Grand Haven Township, but sometimes you have to look at the overall community we live in.”

Meeusen noted the conversations the Township Board had last year regarding ways they could spend an excess fund balance.

“There are not many governments that have special meetings to spend more money because we have such a fund balance built up,” he said.

The fundraising campaign for the Reimagine Project was recently launched. Donors can purchase $100 pickets for a fence that will surround the more than 20,000-square-foot play space. They can also contribute by purchasing a $39.99 Grand Haven-Opoly board game. This weekend’s Winterfest will also serve as a fundraiser for the project.

Work to get the ball rolling on the project began in late September 2017 when local students developed and pitched inclusive play space ideas to designers from Leathers & Associates. In early October, the designers turned those ideas into a final design that will feature items such as a Coast Guard boat, bridge resembling the catwalk, rope climbing wall, monkey bars, slide, shaky bridge and swings.

The estimate is that more than 1,500 volunteers will help build the play space next fall.

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