SPRING LAKE, Mich. — Given to the village in 1916, Tanglefoot Park is one of the only constants in Spring Lake.
“It was Hugo Thume [who] signed the deed,” said Angela Stanford-Butler, director of the Spring Lake Downtown Development Authority. “The obligation was the village maintain this as a park, a wharf, or a pier and for public use and perpetuity.”
The space would go on to become an RV park.
“A lot of the people that would come back in the RVs were from here, so they were a part of our community; we enjoyed having them here,” said Stanford-Butler.
But this year, the area’s change is catching up to it, with the Tanglefoot Park Redevelopment. It’s a project led by Spring Lake’s DDA, which will do away with the concrete slabs and partial hookups and replace it instead with a kayak/canoe launch, splash pad, garden space, event center and more.
“We want the community to be able to utilize this park,” said Stanford-Butler.
According to Stanford-Butler, over the years, the RV concept inadvertently excluded neighbors from the space. Filled half the year with visitors, she says it led people to think of it as private property and not available to them.
“My family moved here about 13 years ago from Chicago,” said Stanford-Butler. “My kids were little and we’d take them for bike rides and we’d pass here and it was like, ‘Oh, okay, let’s just stay in the street and drive past this because it’s private.’ There are people who’ve lived here their whole lives who didn’t realize they could come through here.”
In 2018, when nearby road construction forced the park to close for the summer, Stanford-Butler said it provided a chance to reconsider its purpose.
“When it started, your trailer was smaller than your car, and it was towed behind,” said Stanford-Butler. “Fast forward, the RVs were kind of a wall of white. We’ve got this beautiful river view, and we’re on a peninsula. Property doesn’t just crop up, availability doesn’t just increase, and so, with this beautiful view, some people got the pleasure of the view and the rest of the community didn’t.”
The project totals $3.5 million. The majority comes from the DDA and private pledges, but this week, the village launched a capital campaign to fund the final $200,000. To donate, people can send a check to the village hall.
“This could be a gateway because our downtown is a block away,” said Stanford-Butler. “Grand Haven people pull up and walk to dinner. Well, we’ve got new restaurants, and so, I think everybody thought there was more to do with the park to make it more of an attraction and an enhancement to living in the village.”
Construction is set to begin in late summer and wrap up by the end of the year.
“Change can be hard, but that’s all there is, is change,” said Stanford-Butler. “This becomes the, ‘Oh, I remember when,’ but there will be more of that when there’s, ‘Oh, I remember when we used to go dancing on the trail. I remember when so-and-so got married here, when we had our graduation.’ There are memories to be made.”