$1M pledged to Tanglefoot Park redevelopment

Two local residents have pledged a total of $1 million to the Tanglefoot Park redevelopment project, which could include a community center to be built at the former village-owned RV campground site between Exchange Street and the Grand River. 

The redevelopment of the village of Spring Lake’s Tanglefoot Park is getting a big boost from two local residents who have pledged $1 million toward the project.

Village Manager Chris Burns said she is unable to divulge the names of the residents who pledged the money.

It is well-known that developer Kim Van Kampen, who is building the new $6 million mixed-use Epicurean Village on Savidge Street and transforming the former Bilz Pool & Spas into an antique boutique, is a huge supporter of transitioning the former RV campground into community space.

Van Kampen recently donated the Haight Building at 109 S. Jackson St., valued at $400,000, to the village for redevelopment purposes to help make up for the roughly $40,000 per year that the village has made from operating the Tanglefoot Park campground off Exchange Street. Tanglefoot Park is directly across the street from the Lilley Mansion, which Van Kampen had relocated from Savidge Street to Exchange Street this past summer.

On Monday, the Village Council discussed the next steps for Tanglefoot Park’s redevelopment, but Burns said the village’s Downtown Development Authority will be heading up the project.

“The DDA made the decision they are going to get a proposal from Progressive AE to do design work on the park and to get some numbers,” Burns said. “We have some estimates, but they’re just that. The estimates Progressive AE gave us last month are kind of a shot in the dark.”

The estimate for building a year-round community center, fire pit and making other improvements on the riverfront property totals about $3 million. But that estimate has no designs or details associated with it, Burns stressed, and none of the park details and features has been decided yet.

“We have $1 million worth of donations committed to redevelopment (of the park),” Burns said. “Two donors are committing money to the redevelopment, but I’m not at liberty to say who they are. They have both said they are not interested in naming rights.”

Burns said the village is exploring other funding opportunities, and plans to apply for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant in April. If the grant request is approved, those funds would not be available until late next year. Burns said she wouldn’t expect the project to begin until 2021.

Burns said she expects Progressive AE to complete the design work and cost projections over the coming winter. That information will be included in the DNR grant application, the village manager said, adding that the initial $3 million estimate includes parking, a community center, green space and seawall improvements, and a fire pit with seating.

“Any sort of redevelopment, whether it’s at a park or other downtown business, is pretty exciting to be a part of,” Burns said. “But it’s not just this piece, there are a lot of other pieces.”

Tanglefoot Park did not accommodate RVs this past season because of sewer and road construction projects.

About 100 people attended a community engagement meeting earlier this summer, and the majority of people said they would like to change the use of the land, which was donated to the village years ago by the Thum family, the inventors of sticky fly paper. The Thums placed a deed restriction on the property, saying it must be open for public use.

Burns said building a multi-use facility on the site could make it available for a year-round farmers market and as a rental facility for weddings, showers, reunions and the like.  

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