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Ottawa County Parks & Recreation

Outdoors Ottawa County Spring 2015

Project Updates

Grand Ravines Update: As reported in the winter newsletter, staff and consultants are gearing up to make major improvements to the new Grand Ravines Park this spring. Some work, however, is already underway to renovate the former residence into a park lodge. The future park lodge overlooks the river and will be available to host nature education programs as well as public rentals for family outings, weddings, etc. A $150,000 gift from an anonymous donor is assisting with the lodge improvements, which are anticipated to cost approximately $290,000.

More good financial news came from the State of Michigan which announced it is recommending Ottawa County Parks for a $100,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal grant administered through the National Park Service. The grant will be used to construct a 1.3-mile paved path linking the south and north portions of the park along with waterfront improvements.

Yet another bit of good financial news came from members of the Aldrink family who are contributing $75,000 to construct a ravine overlook. The overlook will be dedicated to the brothers and sisters of the John and Anna Aldrink family, which included Cal and Diana Aldrink, previous owners of the key 100 riverfront acres within the 187-acre park. Other elements of the overall project include a new entry drive off of 42nd Avenue, parking lots, picnic areas and trails. In addition, an off-leash dog park is included in the plans for the south access off of Fillmore Street.

The off-leash dog park plan calls for nearly 20 acres to be fenced, encompassing both turf areas for dog play and trails for walking dogs off-leash. Additional funding is needed to help pay for other features in the dog park including shelters, paved trails, water service, picnic areas and landscaping. Chow Hound, a pet supply store based in West Michigan, is assisting with a fundraising drive through its area stores. A fundraising committee has also been formed through the parks office to spearhead additional efforts with hopes the dog park can feature a full-range of amenities when it opens in the fall of 2015. Contact the parks office if you would like to assist with the off-leash dog park project. You can also support the project by making a donation online.

Historic Pumphouse Renovation Underway: In addition to the new waterfront walkway, visitors to Ottawa Beach will notice improvements in and around the historic red brick pumphouse building that sits between Ottawa Beach Road and Lake Macatawa. Funding from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the same grant that funded the waterfront walkway, is assisting with walkways and landscaping around the pumphouse. A donation from Herman Miller Corporation provided funding for a small shelter located within the pumphouse grounds.

Work is underway to renovate the structure itself. Ottawa County Parks and the Historic Ottawa Beach Society (HOBS), a nonprofit organization, will split the cost of nearly $300,000 in improvements to the pumphouse. Work includes brick repairs and tuckpointing to the building’s exterior along with a new roof. Windows and doors, which have been boarded up for many years, will be restored. Foundation supports will be installed and a beam added to improve the roof’s structural integrity. A new concrete floor and basic lighting will be added to the interior. The goal is to preserve the building and also make it functional for limited use for special events.

The historic pumphouse dates back to 1901 when it was constructed to generate electricity and then later pump water for the Hotel Ottawa and the cottages of the West Michigan Park Association. HOBS is raising funds to develop and operate a museum in the building to interpret the history of Ottawa Beach and other nearby beach communities. View more information on HOBS’ goals and fundraising efforts.

Volunteers Create Mountain Bike Trails: An exciting new regional attraction will soon be complete at Ottawa County's Upper Macatawa Natural Area, thanks to the hard work of the Michigan Edge Mountain Bike Association (MEMBA), the local chapter of Michigan Mountain Bike Association. In 2011, MEMBA members approached Ottawa County Parks staff with the idea of an exhilarating mountain bike trail that would attract visitors from around West Michigan. Parks welcomed MEMBA’s idea because they offered the expertise of sound trail construction with sensitivity to the surrounding natural landscape. 

MEMBA designed a technically-challenging, low-impact mountain bike trail with three loops through UMNA’s scenic ravines. Each loop trail is progressively more challenging. A side benefit of this new set of trails has been the access created for birdwatchers, snowshoers and other outdoor enthusiasts to this once inaccessible part of the park. To get a feel for the trail, watch a video.

In 2015 the last phase of the trail construction will be complete. The work was done entirely by MEMBA volunteers, who have donated over 1000 hours. Special thanks to Jeff Cobb and Brian Stauffer, the project leaders for their exceptional contribution.

Healthy Partnerships: Late last summer, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health approached Ottawa County Parks with the idea of partnering on a Building Healthy Communities grant proposal to the Michigan Department of Community Health. The grant has been approved and will contribute $45,000 to help fund a half-mile of paved pathways at Macatawa Greenspace, a 122-acre county park located within the City of Holland. Ottawa County Parks will match the grant with $20,000 from the parks millage.

With its scenic landscape including restored wetlands and grasslands, the park attracts people seeking a quiet place to de-stress and enjoy nature. Additional trails will better connect the park with surrounding neighborhoods and encourage people to get outside and be physically active. New connections will link the park to neighboring Paw Paw Park and to an already good system of bike paths in the surrounding area.  Additional funding from the Health Department will promote the outdoor recreation opportunities with area residents.

The Department of Public Health and Parks and Recreation Department are natural partners as we strive to make Ottawa County a healthier place to live. Focusing on improvements to the physical environment will increase the access for all of our residents to enjoy the beautiful parks and recreation in our community.  We are excited about this partnership and look forward to more in the future.
Stewardship Workdays: Join us as we continue to remove garlic mustard, an invasive plant threatening the health and beauty of our parks.

  • Mt. Pisgah: Thursday, April 30, 6 - 8PM. Meet in the Black Lake Boardwalk East parking lot.
  • Hemlock Crossing: Saturday, May 2, 10AM - 12PM. Meet at the Nature Education Center.
  • Hager Park: Saturday, May 9, 10AM - 12PM. Meet at the Picnic Building parking lot. Join us for an optional wildflower hike at 9AM to see what we are fighting for.

Never volunteered for a stewardship workday before? No problem! Here’s what you should know: 

  • Bring work gloves (preferably leather), insect repellent and appropriate outdoor gear.
  • All necessary tools, drinking water and snacks will be provided.
  • No preregistration is required.
  • All ages are welcome, however we do ask that those under 16 are supervised by an adult.
  • Work days are cancelled if raining.

Do you have more questions? Contact Melanie or call 616-738-4811.

Other Volunteer Opportunities:
Girls at Port Sheldon (G.P.S.)
G.P.S. is a group of ladies who venture off the beaten path in search of invasive species. With GPS units and tools in hand, they have mapped and eradicated invasive plants from much of Port Sheldon Natural Area. Interested in joining? Contact Melanie

Ottawa County Grand River Clean Up
May 16, 9AM-1PM • Harbor Island, Grand Haven
Registration Required
Each spring, volunteers convene in Grand Haven to clean up along the Grand River’s banks in Ottawa County. Join us for a fun day!

Staff Updates: Ottawa County Parks has experienced a number of staff changes in recent months among its 18 full-time positions:

Jeff Poel retired from his position as Parks Equipment Specialist after more than 18 years on the job. We will miss Jeff’s hard work and dedication to high quality. Jeremy Hamstra was hired recently to replace Jeff. 

Jessica VanGinhoven, who worked in marketing and communications for a business in Holland, has become the Parks’ first full-time Communication Specialist. Jessica replaced Shannon Felgner, who enhanced Parks’ communications over the past two years in a half-time capacity. Shannon moved into a full-time Communications Manager role in the County Administrator’s Office.

Following Bob Reichel’s promotion to Parks Manager, Eric Frifeldt was hired as the Park Supervisor overseeing the Lakeshore Parks. Eric most recently was with the Michigan DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division at Silver Lake and Muskegon State Parks. Before that he spent a number of years working seasonally for Ottawa County Parks. He has a degree in Parks and Recreation from Michigan State University.  

Parks Administration Office

Room 267
12220 Fillmore St.
West Olive, MI 49460
Monday - Friday:
8:00am - 5:00pm
Phone: (616) 738-4810
Fax: (616) 738-4812
In Ottawa County:
(888) 731-1001 ext.4810

General Park Hours*

March 1 - October 15
7:00am - 10:00pm
October 16 - February 28
7:00am - 8:00pm
*Some parks close in winter or have hours that vary. Select each park for specific park hours.