Following the purchase of 87 acres of land to expand the Bend Area Open Space in Georgetown Township earlier this year, the acquisition of an adjacent 62 acres of former gravel mining land was completed in October. In addition to Ottawa County Parks millage funding, this expansion was made possible by a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, as well as funding from the Ottawa County Parks Foundation’s Grand River Greenway Campaign.
“We are working to assemble and create another major destination along the Grand River,” said Parks Commission President Kelly Rice. “Each acquisition milestone gets us closer to that goal. With its close proximity to population centers in Georgetown Township, we think the Bend Area could ultimately become one of the most popular parks in our system.”
The Bend Area Open Space is a key property along the Grand River Greenway, which is an effort to create a model ecological and cultural corridor along the river in Ottawa County. Additional details and background about the Grand River Greenway project and the Bend Area Open Space can be found here.
The purchase of this land accomplished the following:
- Increased public land along the Grand River Greenway to 9,127 acres, 3,130 of which are managed by Ottawa County Parks
- Expanded the Bend Area Open Space to 421 acres
- Added 23.9 acres of man-made pond area, for a total of 115 acres of water features
- Added channel from Grand River to inland ponds
- Added ecologically valuable wetlands and floodplain
- Completed acquisition of all properties on the east side of 12th Avenue north of Taylor Street –Parks frontage on the east side of this road now totals 4,400’. Prior to the gravel mining activities, multiple historic family farms were located along 12th Avenue, and there is still an existing farmstead home (owned by Ottawa County Parks) located there that is over 100 years old.
It also provides additional hiking along the Grand River waterfront and allows for the future development of a marked hiking trail system approximately four miles in length, with a trail loop along the Grand River.
When this new hiking trail system is complete, Ottawa County Parks plans to integrate it with the recently completed section of the Idema Explorers Trail along 10th Avenue, Taylor Street, and 12th Avenue. There will be a grass trailhead parking area on 12th Avenue and multiple locations where pedestrians can enter the Bend Area Open Space to hike through the property.
“The Bend Area Open Space is not well-known yet, and even though it will be a large project for us, we haven’t been quite ready to promote it,” said Parks Director Jason Shamblin. “Now, with the added land, development of a preliminary hiking trail system, and the connection with the Idema Explorers Trail, we hope people will check it out and get a sense of its potential.”
Depending on situation with COVID-19, a dedication ceremony may be scheduled next spring to celebrate the expansion of the Bend Area Open Space, the new hiking trail system, and the newly completed section of the Idema Explorers Trail. More details will be released in the coming months.