Millennium Park Ready To Start

    GRAND RAPIDS — After years of planning and fundraising, work on the first phase of Millennium Park is set to begin soon.

    Kent County Assistant Administrator Al Vanderberg said that bid packages will go to the Board of Commissioners in September, October and November for the initial stage of construction on the 1,500-acre park.

    The bid process will start on Sept. 5 and the first phase is expected to be finished by next spring at a cost of nearly $5 million. When the work is done, the southwest section of the park, which runs along Maynard Avenue, will be completed.

    The entire project has been estimated to take a decade to build. Vanderberg said Kent has purchased 571 acres for the park so far, and he expects the county will close on another 670 acres through a Department of Natural Resources grant by the end of this year.

    “Today, we have about $23.5 million of the $25 million necessary to fund the park. Peter Secchia and the Kent County Parks Foundation plan to move soon on raising the remaining $1.5 million — bringing the private participation to $5 million, but also completing the park funding at $25 million,” said Vanderberg.

    The county has allocated $14 million to the project and has spent slightly more than $3 million to acquire land and to have the properties surveyed.

    Kent County Commission Chairman Steven Heacock unveiled the first-phase site plan at a news conference last week. The region’s largest public beach tops a long list of amenities the project has to offer. Others include a promenade, clock tower, beach house, launch sites for fishing and boating, and areas for basketball and bocce ball.

    “Upon the completion of phase one, Millennium Park will already offer a wide range of activities for children and families across Michigan to enjoy,” said Heacock.

    O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock and Associates Inc. of Kalamazoo designed the park’s master plan with help from Bauer-Ford Reclamation Design. As of last week, Vanderberg said Grand Rapids Gravel has cleared two-thirds of the construction site.

    The county, the county parks department and the Secchia Millennium Commission are developing Millennium Park, which stretches across Grand Rapids, Grandville, Walker and Wyoming along the Grand River.           

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