Greenway & Park Projects
Funded primarily by a dedicated property tax, the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission promises opportunities for outdoor recreation and nature education for today and for future generations.
2021 Parks Plan
The projects taken on by the County are not chosen in haste, but dictated by research and planning. The Ottawa County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan guides land purchases and development projects. The five-year, comprehensive plan identifies priorities including park expansions and improvements, new park development, park maintenance and operations, and other key initiatives. Elements of the plan include analysis of Ottawa County’s population growth, land use changes, and transportation network. A complete inventory of all local and state park and recreation facilities is included along with selected private recreation facilities coordinating county park activities with both the public and private sectors.
A key principle identified in the parks plan is the desirability of establishing greenways within Ottawa County. A greenway is linear open space system often established along a natural or man-made corridor that has value in linking parks, natural areas, and cultural sites with each other and with populated areas. In Ottawa County, a primary goal is to establish a connected network of park and open space lands along the Grand, Pigeon, and Macatawa river corridors and along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Grand River Greenway
As Michigan’s longest river, the Grand River has a rich natural and cultural history. To help conserve this resource, Ottawa County Parks manages over 2400 acres of land with over 13 miles of river frontage and is actively expanding protected lands and public access to them. A long range goal is to provide a paved greenway trail linking these properties and adjacent communities.
- A $300,000 MNRTF grant was awarded for the Jenison Mill segment of the Idema Explorers Trail, which is currently in the design phase with construction anticipated in 2021.
- An MDOT TAP application has been submitted for the Stearns Bayou Connector in Robinson Township.
- In December 2020, the MNRTF board recommended two Ottawa County acquisition projects:
- $504,700 - Bend Area Expansion
- $95,000 - Stearns Creek Expansion
Pigeon River Greenway
The Pigeon River, Ottawa County’s coldest, cleanest and most pristine river, begins and ends in west-central Ottawa County. Current protected lands include over 600 acres of wetlands and forests with many miles of multipurpose trails and access to the river for fishing and kayaking.
Macatawa River Greenway
This river runs through southern Ottawa County emptying into Lake Macatawa in Holland. Heavily influenced by agriculture throughout its history, this river has recently become the focus of improvement efforts. Working along with many partners, Ottawa County Parks has acquired and restored lands within the watershed with the goals of improving water quality, flood storage capacity, wildlife habitat, and providing quality outdoor recreation opportunities.
Lake Michigan Coastal Greenway
Lake Michigan and its associated freshwater dunes are Ottawa County’s most unique and valuable natural resource. Seven county parks, three state parks as well as township and city parks provide residents and visitors access to sandy beaches, massive parabolic sand dunes, and mature beech-maple-hemlock forests. Ottawa County parks itself offers over 1.5 miles of shoreline open for public use and enjoyment.
See the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission meeting packet for updates on these projects, plus smaller projects underway. Look for “Old Business”, “Project Updates”.