Grant paves way for Grand Rapids-Grand Haven trail

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A grant is paving the way for progress on a long-awaited trail in Ottawa County.

The decades-in-the-making Grand River Greenway from Grand Rapids to Grand Haven is much closer to reality.

The grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is more than $500,000, and it will help Ottawa County buy one of the key pieces of land to complete the trail.

“Well, that was big news for us,” said Curt TerHaar, coordinator with Park Planning Development Ottawa County. “We can’t do a lot of this land purchase without some help.”

Finding a way to both protect and preserve land along the Grand River has been talked about for years, and the answer is being worked on right now.

“They link together the park sites that we have, they link our communities to our park sites, Grand Valley State University has two sites on the Grand River, so it would help connect those,” he said.

The Grand River Greenway trail will be about 45 miles long with 30 of those in Ottawa County. The purchase of what is called the Bend Area Open Space allows them to continue it.

It’s located between 12th and 10th avenues off Taylor Street, north of Jenison and south of the Grand River in Georgetown Township.

“This particular grant would add 194 acres to this site,” said TerHaar. “We already have 421, so that puts us over 600 acres that would make it — almost and maybe by the time we’re done — the largest park in the Ottawa County parks system.”

Twenty-one million dollars has been spent buying land for the Greenway and another $20 million is needed, as bits and pieces continue getting worked on.

“We’re trying to be strategic,” said Jessica VanGinhoven from Ottawa County Parks and Recreation. “The segments that we do don’t just stand alone on their own. There’s some connectivity to the local area, and eventually we’ll all come together here in the middle.”

The Greenway Trail won’t be along busy roads or train tracks — it’s just you and nature. Though it will take at least another five years for the Greenway to finish, the result is already clear.

“I want to see all the selfies on Instagram of all the beautiful spaces that we have and just seeing the parking lot full and new people coming out and some folks finding the outdoors,” said VanGinhoven.

There will be a dedication event on Friday, June 11, when the county will be celebrating the purchase of the Bend Area Open Space.

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