NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — This weekend, Muskegon County is having a soft opening for the first phase of its new park in Norton Shores, Dune Harbor Park.

When Muskegon County received grant money from the Department of Natural Resources trust fund for the park, one of the stipulations was that the park would open within 90 days of closing on the property that previously housed the Nugent Sand Co. mine.

“The property closed on December 16th of 2021, and the park has really for all intents and purposes been open this week, but we’re making kind of a soft opening happen (Saturday),” Bob Lukens, community development director for Muskegon County, said.

The soft opening is for the first phase of the project, which covers 214 acres at the south portion of the park. The second phase, the 162-acre north section, is expected to be opening in early 2023.

“It’s really a beautiful plot of land in Norton Shores… It has a 2.2-mile trail, two-track trail around a large inland lake. It’s heavily forested and it is just a beautiful area,” Lukens said.

Over the past few days, Lukens has been preparing for the soft open at the park. During that time, he said, he saw deer, bald eagles, hawks, a variety of birds and animals.

“It’s along one of the major American flyways, so we have a lot of migrator birds that visit the park as they fly along the lakeshore…” he said.

Dogs are welcome to visit the park but are required to be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times. Owners are also responsible for picking up after them.

The entrance to the park is on Leif Avenue and Lincoln Street for parkgoers. Onsite parking is under construction but guests are encouraged to park on side streets near the entrance for the time being. Parking lots are expected to be complete in the coming months. Once they are complete, a fee of $5 a day or $20 for a season pass will be in place.