FERRYSBURG — Since 2017, Ottawa County Parks employees have been working with their partners to acquire a 345-acre Ferrysburg property previously owned by Gaylen Byker.
Now, after successfully obtaining the property, parks system employees and members of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan are celebrating the acquisition of Ottawa Sands, 18153 N. Shore Drive, Ferrysburg, with a dedication event from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The event is set to include naturalist-led tours at 4:30 and at 6 p.m., light refreshments, fall snacks provided by the conservancy group, a short ceremony, and more.
“We’ll also have fishing equipment available for anyone interested in trying their luck with a lure,” said Jessica VanGinhoven, the communications specialist for the county parks department.
Dan O’Keefe, from the Michigan State University Extension office, will provide fishing tips.
“Without our partners, this property simply would not be a park,” VanGinhoven said. “In order to acquire Ottawa Sands, we applied for and received two Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants (one out of cycle, in 2017, which had never been done before, and then another in 2018) totaling nearly $8 million.
“The Land Conservancy of West Michigan stepped into secure a loan to help with the initial purchase while we applied for the second grant,” she said. “Without them, even the initial grant would not have been enough. The Land Conservancy’s donors pitched in to raise nearly $400,000 for the purchase, which relieved pressure on the (state) Trust Fund and covered loan-related expenses.
“We were on the edge of our seats while it all came together,” she continued, “and now that we have fully secured the entire property as park land, it is important to us to come together, celebrate and thank everyone for their contribution and support.”
During the ceremony, which will begin at 5:30 p.m., VanGinhoven said event-goers will hear from Sam Cummings, who is on the board of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, and Ferrysburg Mayor Rebecca Hopp.
Attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather, as this is an outdoor event.