Authorities want to turn 395-acre property along the Grand River into a “large regional park”

ADA, MI – A Riverside Kent County Park property has tripled in size in the past three years, and later this year county leaders want the public to help make it a “great park regional”.

On Thursday, June 3, leaders from Kent County, Ada Township and the Kent County Parks Foundation celebrated the latest in a long string of property purchases that brought Chief Hazy Cloud Park to encompass a total of 395 acres and 3 miles of frontage along the Grand River. .

“The past year has reinforced the importance of having spaces where people and families can enjoy outdoor activities,” said Kent County Commissioners Chair Mandy Bolter. “For years we have been committed to expanding this park to provide more opportunities for residents and now we look forward to giving people the chance to see this beautiful natural green space for themselves.

Although large, the park located at 150 Pettis Ave. NE currently has few amenities; it currently consists of a gravel parking lot with a short network of trails.

Kent County Parks Superintendent Dan DeLooff said the majority of park visitors use Chief Hazy Cloud in its current state to fish or park their vehicles and cycle on nearby roads.

But it will not be so forever.

County leaders spoke on Thursday about the park’s longer-term vision, which will make it a “great regional park.” This plan includes the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Grand River to connect Chief Hazy Cloud to neighboring Roselle Park, a 240-acre park located across the river.

DeLooff said the scope of improvements to the park is somewhat limited, as most of the land is in a floodplain, but some improvements could include more trails, a few playgrounds and restrooms, as well as water points. access to water and fishing.

Officials hope, in the coming months, to initiate a master planning process for the public and other stakeholders to determine what they would like to see in the park. This process, once started, could take six to nine months.

“Kent County will develop and execute a master plan process to provide the community with an opportunity to provide feedback on the development of the park,” said DeLooff. “We are excited about the opportunities this park has to offer, and we look forward to hearing residents’ ideas on how to develop the green space. “

The park was established in the late 1920s. In 1928, the name of the park was changed to Chief Hazy Cloud in honor of Chief Mnobbinnakizhick, or Hazy Cloud, whose tribe worked and roamed the banks of the Thornapple and Rivers. Large and lived near the point of convergence of the two rivers.

The sign at 150 Pettis Ave. NE in Ada welcomes visitors to Chief Hazy Cloud Park.

By the mid-1990s, the park had grown to around 24 acres. In 2008, a state grant of $ 1.1 million helped the county add an additional 98 acres.

Thanks to large grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – as well as financial support from Ada Township, the Kent County Parks Foundation, and private donors – the county has continued since 2019 to purchase and add properties to the park in a fragmentary way.

“We are excited about the idea of ​​a future bridge connecting these two remarkable parks with each other and with the township and county trail systems – allowing interconnected access to the more than 600 acres of parkland and trails available to residents. and visitors. Said Ross Leisman, Supervisor of Ada Township.

“Our township residents recently went over a mile to develop and maintain our trail system,” said Leisman. “And we look forward to continuing to partner with Kent County to develop and connect this unique natural outdoor space. “

The latest 71-acre addition, located at the north end of the park, is purchased this month from DeVos family’s Ada Holdings LLC.

The final price was $ 1,920,000 plus closing costs, of which 70%, or $ 1,344,000, was paid for by a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund and a 30% match, or $ 576,000, from Ada Holdings.

The total cost breakdown and invoice breakdown for all real estate purchases for the park since 2019 were not immediately available.

“It’s a cool public-private partnership, that’s what’s going on here,” County Administrator Wayman Britt said. “I mean we couldn’t have asked for a better partner in Ada Township, they have been great working with them.

“The people of this community are very generous and support the natural resources of the region and I think we have a winning combination to make this a great opportunity for all citizens of the county.”

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