On Thursday, April 20 the Ottawa County Parks Foundation (OCPF) celebrated its official launch as a 501(c)(3). To demonstrate the impact private donations can have on the park system, the Parks Commission made a major announcement: the construction of a suspension bridge at Grand Ravines Park.
A recent article in the Grand Haven Tribune highlighted the event:
David VanGinhoven, president of the Ottawa County Parks Commission and a board member of the new Ottawa County Parks Foundation, said that when the master plan was created for Grand Ravines, the property’s deep ravines made it a challenge to design a viable hiking trail system.
“We have two obstacles,” he said during the event at the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park in West Olive. “We didn’t have the property to go from south to north, and there’s this big ravine in the middle of it that we had to get across.”
According to VanGinhoven, neighboring landowners Ray and Alma Statema donated a permanent trail easement, and the installation of a suspension bridge was put in the park’s master plan.
“It’s really the only logical way to get from the south to the north, but we really didn’t have the financial means to pull that off,” VanGinhoven said. “It was on the master plan, but it wasn’t really something we understood we could make happen. Well, we did find a way to make that happen.”
It was announced Thursday that Beatrice Aldrink Idema made a “significant major donation” of $350,000 to fund the construction of the suspension bridge at the Grand Ravines, VanGinhoven said. “(And) there was another component, and that’s where Ray and Alma come back into the story,” VanGinhoven said. “The family donated the funds to create the pathway.”
The 250-foot-long, 70-foot-high bridge will be fully ADA-accessible, with a paved path leading to one side of the bridge. Construction on the bridge will begin this spring, with an anticipated fall opening.
County parks commissioners say the announcement serves to highlight how the new Ottawa County Parks Foundation can be used to enhance private money to enhance the parks system.
“The suspension bridge and the trail leading to it are a perfect example of how private funds can provide the margin of excellence to help the park system go from good to great,” said Mark Oppenhuizen, a board member of the foundation and a founding member of the Ottawa County Parks Commission.
The Parks Commission has received many donations, both large and small from the community throughout the years. Many parties are to thank for making Grand Ravines the special park it is today. The ravine overlook was built with a gift from the Aldrink family. The dog park has received support from park users, Chow Hound Pet Supplies, the Hudsonville-Jenison Community Foundation, local veterinarians, and many others. “While the community has been incredibly generous, we have learned that many people would prefer to donate to a non-profit rather than a government organization. That interest is a big reason, along with many others, why the Parks Foundation was formed,” said OCPF Board President, Tom Werkman. “We are excited to continue to provide that margin of excellence to the parks system.”
Grand Ravines County Park is part of the Ottawa County Parks system and a key property along the Grand River Greenway.
Grand Rapids Business Journal, May 29, 2017: County building suspension bridge
Mlive, April 21, 2017: Newly formed foundation launches first project – suspension bridge at Grand Ravines Park