345-acre park opens


Photo via miottawa.org

The public now has access to a new 345-acre park in West Michigan with plenty of natural amenities.

Ottawa Sands park in Ferrysburg, at 18153 N. Shore Dr., features forested dunes, an 80-acre inland lake, riverfront land with wetlands and about two miles of trails.

The site had long been used for sand mining, but it has been inactive in recent years.

As of July 31, the property is co-owned by Ottawa County Parks and the Grand Rapids-based Land Conservancy of West Michigan. It was previously privately owned.

The land is valued at $11.22 million, and the former owner donated 25 percent of that value.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund provided $4.2 million to acquire the property. The Land Conservancy purchased half the property with a $4-million loan from The Conservation Fund and has leased its portion of the property to Ottawa County Parks for management.

Once the loan is paid, property ownership will be transferred to Ottawa County Parks.

Ottawa County Parks submitted a 2018 grant application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and is seeking public support.

The previous owner had approached Ottawa County Parks with a limited-time offer for the donation and a requirement that the entire land be purchased this year.

Because of the unexpected acquisition, the property will remain undeveloped — likely for several years — until funding is available for improvements, according to John Scholtz, Ottawa County Parks director.

“The first step toward long-range improvements will be to create a master plan for the site,” Scholtz said. “The master-planning process will include multiple opportunities for public participation and comment.”

The park’s hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. March 1 through Oct. 15 and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 16 through Feb. 28.

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