Ideal Park coming back to life after 2014 tornado

Kent County

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — It was on July 6, 2014 when a tornado tore a path through portions of Wyoming and Kentwood.

It was a night Julie Vogel won’t soon forget.

“I stood by my television and I thought what am I going to do. I heard this wind and I could hardly close my doors,” said Vogel.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Photos of the damage at Ideal Park

In an instant, the landscape out Vogel’s backdoor was changed.

“In five minutes, all my trees were gone in the back and in the front,” said Vogel.

Vogel lives across the street from Wyoming’s Ideal Park — the 75 plus year old Wyoming landmark known for its slow growth trees.

The park lost 98 percent of its canopy during the storm.

“You didn’t need tents. You had such a gorgeous shade. It was calm. It was peaceful,” said the City of Wyoming’s Community Services Director Rebecca Rynbrandt. “People would come here and just walk to enjoy nature, and then it was decimated.”

Next Wednesday marks the first of what city officials hope will be one of many milestones for the park.

Future plans call for a new pavilion, playground and other facilities to be built away from Buck Creek.

“You will have your main shelter, the basketball court will all be relocated to this side of the creek,” Rynbrandt.

All of this is part of a masterplan for the park city officials have been talking about since the storm. They have held a number of community meetings to get input. At times, it has been a struggle.

“It will never be the same that is what we try to tell people. Those are fond memories, and now we are launching for the future,” said Rynbrandt.

In the end, a survey of resident show 97 percent of those who took part in the planning process were satisfied with the results.

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