“Several years ago we established this award and have given out 10 since 2000,” said Thomas McWhertor, chair of the council’s Public Information and Education Committee.
The council cited Millennium Park for a Blueprint Award because it mirrors the regional planning agency’s idea of green and open space that surrounds developed areas, and because it was an outstanding example of regional leadership.
The 1,500-acre park connects residents with the Grand River and many trails in the area. A 100-acre lake and a six-acre beach opened last summer. Its development and construction brought Kent County, Grand Rapids, Walker and Wyoming together with the private sector.
“The park sets a new standard of quality,” said Milt Rowher, president of the Frey Foundation, which contributed to the park’s construction.
Rowher presented Kent County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio with the Project and Design Award and Delabbio pointed out that it took a village to build the park.
“This park is a park of vision,” he said.
Delabbio had special praise for the visionary efforts of County Parks Director Roger Sabine, past County Chairman Steven Heacock, current County Chairman David Morren, former Deputy Administrator Alan Vanderberg, current Assistant Administrator Mary Swanson, and local businessman Peter Secchia, who chaired the Millennium Commission.
“He has made this his personal passion,” said Delabbio of Secchia. “This isn’t just a significant park. It’s also a significant reclamation project.”
Crystal Flash President Tom Fehsenfeld said WMSBF, a program of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), has reached a loftier level of environmental achievement. He said the group of 70 local businesses has freely adopted actions that have helped to sustain the environment through a “triple bottom line” that involves economy, environment and equality.
“I’m quite overwhelmed,” said WMEAC Executive Director Tom Leonard after being handed the Program and Policy Award from Fehsenfeld.
“I’m extraordinarily proud of the people that I work with who made this forum a success. Their optimism and vision is being envied by the rest of the state,” added Leonard.
The Blueprint Awards highlighted the Annual Growing Communities Conference held at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park earlier this month.
The Metro Council presented the daylong event that featured new ideas on development patterns for housing, infrastructure, transportation and employment centers. Major sponsors were Bosgraaf Builders and the Interurban Transit Partnership.