On Monday night, the Township Board voted 4-0 to pursue funding from the Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund to bring trails, a boardwalk, signage and other amenities to Hofma Park & Preserve.
Township officials say construction of the trails will allow for restoration of the natural landscape.
The funding of up to $300,000 from the trust fund would help create a trailhead parking lot at 168th Avenue. Township Community Development Director Stacey Fedewa said the trailhead will link up by existing township pathways to the Idema Explorers Trail, which connects Grand Haven to Grand Rapids, and to the U.S. Bike Route 35 that spans from Indiana to Canada.
The cost of construction is estimated at $874,396, with a 25 percent match from the township of $218,600.
A network of universally designed trails through the Witteveen property portion of the park — a former Christmas tree nursery — will connect with existing trails through the preserve and proposed trails through the Wolfe property to the north. At the Wolfe property portion, a 625-foot-long boardwalk and 400-square-foot platform would offer views for bird watching over extensive wetland and floodplain.
Fedewa said non-native plants will be removed within 40 feet of the trail, with restoration of native trees, grasses and wildflowers. The trails will be made of an aggregate hard surface to allow for strollers and wheelchairs to traverse the park.
The parking lot would include 30 spaces, with room for additional spaces in the future, Fedewa said.
Interpretative signage will accompany habitat houses to support new wildlife. The former Christmas tree farm at the Witteveen property has been called an “ecological dead zone” due to the lack of tree diversity and food for native wildlife, and diseases spread among the pines. The township is planning to use grant funds to help with tree replanting efforts along this section of the park near Sleeper Street.
The donation of the Witteveen and Wolfe properties led to the formation of the Hofma Vision in 2017, when the township gathered community input for public uses for the 155 acres. The Township Board has set aside $550,000 to begin development, and numerous recreational fields and other amenities are planned with the future acquisition of funding.