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Governor signs Huizenga’s NRTF funding bill

Measure includes 13 projects in Kent and Ottawa counties

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Mark Huizenga’s legislation to support $84.6 million in park and trail developments and acquisitions across Michigan was signed on Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“This outdoor recreation funding is an example of the great things that can be done when we work together to build a better Michigan,” said Huizenga, R-Walker. “We are putting constitutionally restricted funding to positive use to improve access to our great outdoors for families to enjoy, encourage active lifestyles, and make our region and state more attractive for talent and jobs.

“In West Michigan, local communities will receive over $4 million in trust fund grants to help make over $14.4 million in total improvements to public outdoor spaces that enhance our quality of life.”

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. Since its inception in 1976, the NRTF has been used to fund 2,715 projects totaling $1.3 billion.

Senate Bill 1028, now Public Act 151 of 2022, authorizes the NRTF to use $45.6 million in restricted funds to support 22 acquisition projects and 95 development projects. Matching funds of $39 million would bring the total investment to $84.6 million.

Kent County projects include a total of $900,000 in grants toward the $3.96 million development of 4,464 feet of the nonmotorized Rivers Edge Trail from Ann Street to Leonard Street in Grand Rapids with river frontage along the east bank of the Grand River. The three segments include street underpasses, a universally accessible 12-foot wide shared-use trail, river access, LED lighting, seating and signage. Ultimately, the trail will connect downtown Grand Rapids to the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park.

Other grants in the bill for trail projects in Kent and Ottawa counties include:

  • $300,000 toward a $1.4 million development of 2.1 miles of the River Valley Rail-Trail through the city of Lowell, including a pedestrian bridge across the Grand River. This trail is part of the 125-mile Fred Meijer Mid-West Regional Trail network.
  • $300,000 toward a $1.5 million project to construct an Iron Belle-North Country Trail connector at Luton Park in Cannon Township along with a trail map, bike fix station, benches, rain garden and bike racks.
  • $300,000 toward a $3.5 million development of a 2.3-mile segment of the Idema Explorers Trail that will provide the final nonmotorized connection between the existing trail and Grand Haven — completing a 13-mile path from the Grand Haven Pier to Riverside Park.

SB 1028 also features NRTF grants for five park improvements in Kent and Ottawa counties, including:

  • $214,100 for the $428,200 development of East Paris Park in Kentwood to renovate the existing bituminous trails, which will be replaced with an 8-foot-wide limestone path to provide an accessible surface that can easily be repaired when roots appear. The project also provides a trail map kiosk, LED lighting, benches, bike racks, grills, picnic tables, serving tables, and a reading trail.
  • $231,300 toward $462,600 of improvements to the Buck Creek Trailhead at Mill Race Park in Grandville, including adding a pavilion, interpretive signage, “naturescape” playground, a trail loop with a bridge over Buck Creek, native plantings, and parking.
  • $300,000 toward a $604,600 development of the Grand Rogue Park in Plainfield Charter Township at the confluence of the Rogue and Grand rivers. The project will add the first water access at the site via a dock, kayak launch, and observation deck. It also includes a pavilion, a road and parking lot, and improvements to the existing play equipment, benches, picnic tables, grills, bike racks, and signage.
  • $237,000 toward a $474,000 project to renovate the restroom facility at Ottawa County’s Kirk Park and install a new accessible playground and trailhead amenities for three key regional trails.
  • $152,600 toward a $305,200 development of the newly established 10.4-acre Buttermilk Creek Park natural area in Hudsonville to provide a public restroom building, rain garden, and parking lot. These amenities will serve both the park and the Buttermilk Trail, which is the public pathway system the city has been constructing over the past 10 years to enhance walkability and connectivity within the city and surrounding townships.

Kent County has two land acquisition projects included in the bill, including:

  • $1.12 million toward the $1.6 million purchase of 106 acres adjacent to Townsend Park, bringing it to regional park status with a proposed total of 250 acres. The property would add bird watching opportunities and access to Bear Creek for fishing. The conceptual planning envisions three miles of trails, connection to the existing park, parking for the trail system, and a pavilion featuring unobstructed views of the landscape.
  • $44,800 toward the $89,600 acquisition of 0.77 of an acre in the Plaza Roosevelt area of Grand Rapids for the purpose of developing a public park to serve nearby residents and children attending a school immediately adjacent to the new park.

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