News

Ottawa County Parks: Connecting the Idema Explorers Trail to Kent County

The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Ottawa County Parks Foundation announced two key property transactions for the Grand River Greenway Initiative.

These properties are crucial to connect the Idema Explorers Trail to Kent County.

“More work still needs to be done, but we are two steps closer to achieving one of the major goals of the Grand River Greenway Initiative, which is to connect existing Kent Trails in Grandville to the future Idema Explorers Trail,” said Parks Director John Scholtz. “With this connection, users would be able to bike and hike from Jenison to Kent Trails, Millennium Park, and downtown Grand Rapids.”

The property transactions include:

  • A purchase agreement to acquire 16.5 acres of land on the Grand River with 651’ of riverfront in Georgetown Township for $100,000; the acquisition is expected to be complete by the end of January.
  • Acquisition of a 1,000’-long easement that will connect a parks property on Cottonwood Drive to the riverfront for $10,000.
    These purchases would not be possible without assistance from the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, which is providing all the funding for the purchases through the Grand River Greenway Campaign. The Greenway Campaign is co-chaired by Peter Secchia, Monica Verplank, and Samantha Verplank.

“This is not only a win for the development of the Idema Explorers Trail, but also for land preservation, which is a primary focus of the Parks Foundation,” said Foundation President Bobbi Jones Sabine. “This will protect ecologically important and scenic floodplains and wetlands while also possibly helping to create a future park right in the heart of the Jenison business district.”

East of the Kent County border, there are nearly six miles of publicly owned riverfront on the south side of the Grand River. A multi-use pathway extends through this public land and then connects to Millennium Park on the north side of the River, where separated and on-road pathways lead to downtown Grand Rapids.

At the border with Ottawa County, the City of Grandville owns the land where Rush and Buck Creeks flow into the Grand River at the site of the Grandville Clean Water Plant. Ottawa County Parks, in collaboration with Georgetown Township, has worked for years to assemble properties and easements west of the plant (near the Cottonwood Drive/Baldwin Street intersection) with the goal of linking to the public land in Kent County.

Construction of a new 1.17-mile segment of the Idema Explorers Trail along Cottonwood Drive is scheduled to commence in spring 2019. If additional land or easements can be acquired, design work would immediately begin on a segment of the Idema Explorers Trail that would connect the Cottonwood Drive segment to the existing trail at the Kent County line. This would be completed in collaboration with Georgetown Township and the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.

Additionally, Ottawa County Parks will also review at that time whether or not the Cottonwood Drive/Baldwin Street site is suitable for a county park, given its significant ecological and historical value (Rush Creek flows into the Grand River in this area and it is near the site of the old Jenison sawmill).

The Grand River Greenway is a long-term effort by Ottawa County Parks to preserve ecologically and recreationally important land along the Grand River and connect the lands together with a multi-use trail (the Idema Explorers Trail). Once completed, the Idema Explorers Trail would make it possible to travel from the lakeshore in Grand Haven to Millenium Park and downtown Grand Rapids. It would also connect the two Grand Valley State University campuses together.

To help complete the Greenway, the Parks Foundation launched the Grand River Greenway Campaign which is now only $1.33 million from completing its fund-raising goal. To learn more or donate, visit http://ottawacountyparksfoundation.org/ or call 616-215-6544.