Schmidt park donation falls through

Alexander Sinn • Sep 28, 2018 at 9:00 AM

A land donation sought for a 75-acre recreational park in Grand Haven Township has fallen through.

Jim Schmidt, who agreed to donate the property, withdrew his offer amid “negativity” and opposition from neighbors, according to township officials.

“Unfortunately, some residents of a nearby subdivision did not agree with the development of the proposed complex of jogging trails and sports fields,” Township Superintendent Bill Cargo said. “Further, there were legitimate financial questions raised by elected officials related to both the capital expenditures and future maintenance.”

Discussion between Schmidt and the township had been ongoing since August 2017, and plans for a future park, located between Ferris and Lincoln streets, were approved in July.

The land is likely valued at more than $1.7 million, Cargo said, and township expenditures toward the project, including environmental and legal work, will not be wasted if Schmidt decides he wants to donate it in the future.

“(Schmidt) is donating land that’s been in his family for over 120 years,” Cargo explained. “He has a strong emotional tie to this property.”

The proposed Schmidt Heritage Park, including numerous recreational fields and trails, was estimated at between $8 million and $12 million to complete. There was no timeline established by the township, allowing for future funding to help complete projects over time.

A conceptual plan included two baseball diamonds, two softball diamonds, two youth baseball diamonds, three youth soccer fields, four multipurpose fields, 12 pickleball courts and a 1.5-mile jogging path. There were also about 516 parking spaces and restrooms in the plan.

A fence removing access from the adjacent Cutter Park subdivision to the park’s east side was added to the proposal earlier this month. 

There is a need for these recreational offerings in the township, Cargo said, and the township’s Parks & Recreation Committee will go forward with the nearby Hofma Park and Preserve plan, as well as pursue new uses for Mercury Park, with the removal of the inline skate rink.

Negotiations did not end on bad terms, Cargo said, and Township Supervisor Mark Reenders will have continued discussions with Schmidt in the coming months.

“If there is any opportunity to revive the project at some future point, I am hopeful the township and Mr. Schmidt can work together,” Cargo said.

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