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County acquires key properties for Greenway project

Alexander Sinn • Jan 22, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Ottawa County has acquired a pair of key properties for its long-term plan to connect regional trails and preserve land along the Grand River. 

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation has entered a purchase agreement for 16.5 acres of land, including 651 feet of riverfront in Georgetown Township, for $100,000. A 1,000-foot easement was also acquired to connect county property on Cottonwood Drive to the riverfront, costing the county $10,000.

A new 1.17-mile segment of the Idema Explorers Trail along Cottonwood Drive will be constructed later this year, expanding the system to connect with existing Kent County trails. 

Ottawa County Parks is hoping to gain more ground for the project, explained the department’s communications director, Jessica VanGinhoven.

“It’s not the only piece of property needed to make this connection, but it’s getting us one step closer,” she said. “There is still quite a bit of work to do before the trail is complete. This is just one small piece of the puzzle.”

Engineering and construction are being planned for a bridge over Stearns Bayou in Grand Haven Township, a trail through Eastmanville Bayou in Allendale, a trail along 42nd Avenue near Grand Valley State University, and a trail along 10th Avenue and Cottonwood Drive in Jenison. 

Other easements and properties are being pursued in the county to keep the trail as close as possible to the Grand River, VanGinhoven said. The land and adjoining properties will form a future county park space to preserve and study the floodplains and wetlands, she said. 

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation is also seeking private funding to complete the trail, as well as applying for grants and working with local corporations toward a $7.2 million goal. Nearly $6 million has been acquired. 

Over the past 20 years, $20 million in mostly public funding has been invested to preserve more than 2,400 acres and create 13 parks and open spaces, VanGinhoven said. In the coming years, an investment of $21 million is proposed to acquire 1,000 acres of land and construct 27 miles of new pathway.

You can support the Greenway project by making a donation to the Ottawa County Parks Foundation’s general fund. 

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