The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission revealed preliminary plans regarding an upgraded marina facility and enhanced park land on Lake Macatawa at the Historic Ottawa Beach Parks site in Holland.
The private company Parkside Marina has leased much of the public waterfront for the past 30 years, including the marina’s 80 slips. The private ownership limited public access and enjoyment of the waterfront, according to Ottawa County Parks Director John Scholtz.
With nearly 2 million visitors traveling along Ottawa Beach Road each year, the group wanted to make this area more accessible to the public. The agency will not renew Parkside Marina’s lease but will instead make improvements to the space and open it to the public.
“One of our big goals is we want more green space or more public value to the property,” Scholtz said.
The public space is slated to open by 2019 with improvements that include replacement of the existing marina with 46 new boat slips — 15 seasonal slips, five seasonal moorings and 26 transient slips — extension of the public waterfront walkway, public restrooms, a universally accessible kayak launch and landscaped green space with seating along the waterfront for public use.
“We’ve got what we think is a viable idea and concept,” Scholtz said.
The project is estimated to cost $2.3 million, with $1.2 million going toward the marina and $1.1 million going toward the land and kayak launch.
The group has been awarded a $643,000 Boating Infrastructure Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help pay for transient boat slips. Park Township will invest $90,000 to create a township plaza space. The commission will use $500,000 from its budget for the project.
The county has applied for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant of $291,000, a Michigan Coastal Management Grant of $64,000 and a Michigan Boat Pumpout Grant of $20,000.
Scholtz said the county will seek outside financing, he hopes from the Ottawa Board of Commissioners, for $844,000, which would be paid back over time through boat slip fees.
Plans for these changes have been in the works since 2005 after Ottawa County and the West Michigan Parks Association reached a court-endorsed agreement based on a park master plan.
There have been many improvements since then in response to the order, but there was pushback in 2011 from Parkside Marina and its patrons. Ottawa County extended the business’s lease for another five years.
Scholtz said the business owner had opportunities since that 2011 extension to partner with Ottawa County and make investments in the property, which would have inclined the county to offer another lease extension. But there wasn’t interest, so the county decided to maintain its original plan, extending the Parkside Marina lease another year to give the owner time to wrap up.
“She’s run a very friendly, nice operation; it’s just that looking to the future, (investing) may not have made sense to her,” Scholtz said.
He said the current facilities “desperately” need an upgrade.
“It’s really not the most attractive operation right in the middle of our renovated park property,” he said. “We hear that a lot from folks.
“Our feeling is it’s just not sustainable the way it is.”
The next step is for the preliminary plans to be reviewed by the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, followed by submittal to the Park Township Planning Commission. Scholtz said they also plan to begin the permit work for Corps of Engineers.