Trail connection between Kent, Ottawa counties moves closer to reality

Posted at 7:45 PM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-10 19:45:53-05

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich.  —  A pair of property transactions announced by Ottawa County brighten the prospects for a future regional trail connecting Grand Rapids, Grand Haven and Grand Valley State University.

The county says the properties are crucial to connect the future Idema Explorers Trail to Kent County. That’s a key link in a plan to build a 27-mile regional pathway between Grand Haven in Ottawa County and Millennium Park in Kent County. Construction of a new segment of the trail along Cottonwood Drive is scheduled to start in the spring.

Ottawa County Parks Director John Scholtz says in a news release, “With this connection, users would be able to bike and hike from Jenison to Kent Trails, Millennium Park, and downtown Grand Rapids.”

The Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission says one transaction is a purchase agreement to acquire 16.5 acres of land on the Grand River in Georgetown Township for $100,000. The riverfront deal should be completed by the end of January. The other transaction is a $10,000 acquisition of an easement that will connect a parks property on Cottonwood Drive to the riverfront.

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation is providing all of the funding for the purchases through the county’s Grand River Greenway campaign, according to the news release. That’s a $41 million initiative to protect natural lands, develop recreational opportunities and connect communities.  A fundraising goal was set at $7.2 million.

“This is not only a win for the development of the Idema Explorers Trail, but also for land preservation,  which is a primary focus of the Parks Foundation,” said Foundation President Bobbi Jones Sabine. “This will protect ecologically important and scenic floodplains and wetlands while also possibly helping to create a future park right in the heart of the Jenison business district.”