City, county among rec grant recipients

Alex Doty • Dec 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) released its list of 2017 funding recommendations to the state Legislature for recreational development and land acquisition projects, and Ottawa County is well represented.

The trust fund’s recommendations total more than $47.6 million for projects next year, including $19.9 million in recreational development and $27.7 million in land acquisition projects. About $2.4 million of those are in Ottawa County.

“Just on the development side, (there are) seven development projects and one acquisition project in Ottawa County,” said Steve DeBrabander of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources grants office. “Ottawa County did very well this year with that many grants within the county.”

The trust fund has provided more than a billion dollars in grants since it started 40 years ago. Its board makes its recommendations during the first week of December every year.

“The Legislature and governor have to sign off on an appropriations bill, which usually occurs February or March of the following year,” DeBrabander said. “They typically approve whatever’s recommended by the trust fund board.”

Three grant recommendations are in the city of Grand Haven, including two city-specific projects — Waterfront Stadium and Mulligan’s Hollow improvements.

“We’re very excited that our two applications were successful for MNRTF support,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “We spent a lot of time putting the application together with the help of Abonmarche.”

The MNRTF has recommended a $280,000 grant, with a local commitment of $674,900, for a $954,900 project at Waterfront Stadium. The grant would be used to fund the amphitheater portion of the project — the grassy terrace area, amphitheater, demolition, lighting and pedestrian pathways — and not for other amenities that may be added, such as restrooms. The stadium-style bleachers would be replaced with tiered seating built into the landscape, and a park-like setting that's usable year-round would be created.

“We intend to break ground next fall,” McGinnis said.

Also recommended is a $280,000 grant to help the city fund parking improvements at its Mulligan’s Hollow Recreational Area. Combined with a $202,700 match from the city, the grant would cover an estimated $482,700 project to create 134 new parking spots.

According to McGinnis, the proposed parking area would be located where the old Board of Light & Power storage tanks were located. 

McGinnis said they hope to hire an architect and engineer to design the improvements to Mulligan’s Hollow this coming spring.

Also in Grand Haven, the MNRTF is recommending that the DNR receive a $300,000 grant to replace the river channel restrooms at Grand Haven State Park. The new restroom facility, which would be ADA-accessible, would replace the current facility built in the 1930s.

Elsewhere, the MNRTF recommended a $200,000 grant for the north segment of the Ottawa County Spoonville Trail. The 2 miles of the new trail would go from 120th Avenue and Leonard Road to the Village of Nunica, via 112th Avenue. It would link with the recently completed first phase, which headed from North Cedar Drive north to Leonard.

Ottawa County planner Paul Sachs said he is thrilled with the news of the state grant.

“It helps us significantly,” he said. “The point we’re at with our fundraising, it reduces our balance that needs to be raised by 50 percent.”

The Spoonville Trail is part of a network of non-motorized pathways that connect the Grand Rapids region to Lake Michigan. This pathway network is referred to as the Grand Connection and is comprised of three different trails: the North Bank Trail, Grand River Greenway and the Spoonville Trail. 

“To date, we’ve raised over $2 million through grants, contributions and county support,” Sachs said of Spoonville Trail phase II funding.

Sachs noted that the county plans to continue to push forward to identify other sources of funding in order to get the project wrapped up.

“We’re being very persistent because we’re so close to finishing the trail,” he said.

DNR officials say getting funding for projects is competitive.

“We received 172 applications requesting $59.3 million in the program this year,” DeBrabander said. “We have several scoring criteria we look at, including what the need is for the project, how does it add to public outdoor recreation, (and) does it have natural resources value.”

Tribune Managing Editor Matt DeYoung contributed to this report.

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