Historic house at heart of new Ottawa Co. park

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GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — There have been a number of improvements at Ottawa County Parks in recent years, and county officials say they’re just getting started.

Ottawa County Parks & Recreation recently bought a historic house that dates back to the early 1900s in the Bend Area along the Grand River north of Jenison. The county’s coordinator of park planning and development said several hundred acres around the house were also purchased to be turned into a park within the next five years.

“This particular house is right in the middle of where we are acquiring additional land, so it made sense that we would purchase that property, and it is a neat old house,” Curt TerHaar said.

The house itself, which cost $160,000, will be used as a venue for special events.

The couple of million dollars used to buy the house and land came from the county’s parks millage, a new parks foundation and private fundraising.

Because the park is being built on what’s currently a gravel mine, it will have many similarities to Millennium Park.

“There’s a large lake, 100-acre lake that will be in the middle of it, so we will probably have swimming, of course lots of trails and fishing and all those kind of water sports on the lake,” TerHaar said.

As the county focuses on its new project, it has just finished work at Grand Ravines North and South Park in Georgetown Township. Parkgoers reap nature’s benefits with the help of some improvements.

“It’s got such a variety of places to walk,” said Roger Miller, who was out Wednesday for a walk with his wife. “You get way from the city, traffic, you’re not like walking the streets, hearing the buses and trucks and everything else. This is quiet. Hear the birds? Oh, it’s great.”

Upgrades began in 2015 with a new dog park, scenic trails along the Grand River, renovation of a home-turned-lodge and perhaps its most impressive feat, a 275-foot suspension bridge finished just this summer.

“It’s such an improvement from when I used to come here with my dog and it was just dirt trails. It’s just absolutely gorgeous,” park visitor Joan Mazurkiewicz said.

“I like it ’cause you get to meet a whole new community of people,” Michelle Mastenbrook, another person out at the park Wednesday, said.

TerHaar said knew Grand Ravines Park could be developed into a more convenient option for some in Georgetown Township.

“We have the dunes along Lake Michigan, but the ravines in that area are really unique. They’re quite spectacular and a lot of our design work was trying to get people ways to experience that kind of landscape that people don’t usually see around here,” he said.

Funding for those improvements, which cost roughly $3.7 million, also came from the county’s parks mileage, grants and private donations. The bridge cost about $480,000; about $350,000 of that came from a single private donation.——Online: Ottawa County Parks & Recreation

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