Foundations give $860K to trail project


A shot of the Grand River running through Ottawa County. Courtesy Ottawa County Parks Foundation

Two recent gifts from local foundations have added to the goals of the Grand River Greenway Campaign.

The Frey and Wege foundations recently awarded $860,000 total to the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, with Wege offering $500,000 and Frey $360,000.

The money was given to help further a $7.2-million private funding goal for the Grand River Greenway Campaign.

“The show of support from Kent County donors demonstrates that the Grand Rapids area philanthropic community understands the regional value and impact of our vision,” said Peter Secchia, co-chair of the Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee.

The Grand River Greenway Campaign is a $41-million, 30-plus-year-long project, detailing 30 miles of public trails along the Grand River.

When complete, the trails will connect 8,500 acres of land and provide links between Grand Rapids, Grandville, Jenison, Grand Valley State University’s campuses and the lakeshore in Grand Haven.

So far, about $20 million in public funds has been invested in the project to preserve more than 2,400 acres of land and create 13 parks and open spaces along the greenway.

Over the next five years, the Parks Foundation plans to spend another $21 million to acquire 1,000 acres and construct 27 miles of new trails. Of that $21 million, the Parks Foundation has sought $7.2 million in private donations.

John Scholtz, director of the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission, told the Business Journal in May 2017 the other $14 million will come from the parks millage, anticipated grant funding and other sources that have already been secured.

The Grand River Greenway Campaign is actively seeking members to help complete its private funding goal.

“We are very thankful for the support from our neighbors in Kent County, and we hope to have more announcements to come in the near future, but our work is not done yet,” said Tom Werkman, president of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation and a member of the Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee.

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