Rallying for the parks

Becky Vargo • Oct 30, 2017 at 9:00 AM

More than half a dozen Ferrysburg-area residents braved spurts of rain, wind and cool temperatures to wave signs at passing cars during a rally Saturday afternoon at Sunnyside Park.

The event was designed to raise awareness and share information about an upcoming vote on an amendment concerning some local parks.

“We had a lot of response,” said Sandy Tuggle, a member of the Save the Ferrysburg Nature Preserve committee. “We had a lot of honks and thumbs up.”

They also had an occasional thumbs down, but the overall response was positive, according to committee member and Ferrysburg mayoral candidate Rejina Sjoberg.

“We had some people stop and pick up brochures,” Sjoberg said.

Others braved the weather to stop and ask questions.

Ferrysburg residents will be asked on Nov. 7, to vote on a ballot amendment, that if approved, would require a vote of the residents to sell a park. The current ordinance allows a sale of non-deed-restricted parklands by a vote of City Council.

Conflict over the possible sale of the Ferrysburg Nature Preserve is what prompted the group of homeowners around the park to form the Save the Ferrysburg Nature Preserve Committee.

The possibility of such a sale was discussed earlier in the year when Councilmembers talked about ways of raising funds to help pay for repair or reconstruction of the West Spring Lake Road bridge over Smith’s Bayou, known as Smith’s Bridge. 

Committee member Lisa Royce said on Feb. 6, they asked Council to put the amendment on the ballot, but that it was voted down, 5-2. Sjoberg and current Mayor Dan Ruiter voted in favor of placing the amendment change on the ballot.

“This whole negativity could have been avoided,” Royce said of the ongoing conflict over the possible sale of green space in the city.

Sunnyside Park is one of four parks in the City of Ferrysburg not protected by deed restrictions, said Tuggle, when asked why they were holding their rally at Sunnyside Park instead of the Ferrysburg Nature Preserve.

The four parks are Sunnyside, Fire Barn, Ferrysburg Nature Preserve and William Ferry Park, according to Sjoberg.

Coast Guard Park and Kitchel Lindquist Harger Dunes are protected by deed restrictions, she said.

Committee members said they will probably be at another park, possibly William Ferry Park, next weekend. 

“We’re just out here to answer questions,” said another committee member, Heather Hawley. “We want people to have that information before they vote.”

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