The foundation is providing a $50,000 grant for the greenway and the Idema Explorers Trail projects.
"We are very grateful for the support from the Consumers Energy Foundation and the ongoing support of the community,” Ottawa County Parks Foundation President Tom Werkman said. "We plan to keep up the momentum and hope to announce new commitments to the project soon."
The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy. It provides funds for education, community, civic and cultural development, social services, the environment, and emerging issues.
“‘Leaving it better than we found it’ is a stand we’ve taken as a company and a foundation as we consider Michigan’s future,” said Brandon Hofmeister, the president of the utility’s foundation. “We have called this great state home for 130 years and the contribution to Ottawa County Parks’ Grand River Greenway will help ensure continued access to the river and adjacent trails for generations, and provide citizens of all ages unlimited opportunities to hike and explore the area’s natural beauty.”
The greenway campaign is the culmination of a 30-year vision to protect thousands of acres of high-quality natural and recreational lands along the Grand River in Ottawa County and then connect the lands with a multi-use trail, the Idema Explorers Trail. To accomplish this vision, Ottawa County Parks plans to acquire 700 acres of additional land and construct 27 miles of new trail, with 13 miles of the trail along or near the river or other water features.
This work will require $21 million in funding, with the Ottawa County Parks Foundation seeking $7.2 million in philanthropic gifts to leverage anticipated public funding. The foundation has so far raised nearly $5.7 million.
“One of the things that I love about this project is not only that it will make the Grand River more accessible to thousands of families, but that it will also connect Grand Rapids and Grand Haven together with a river pathway route for the first time," said Peter Secchia, a co-chairperson of the Grand River Greenway Committee. "People will be able to start from Millennium Park, travel from park to park, have ice cream or a burger in Jenison or Allendale, and end with a sunset on the Grand Haven pier.”