Crews have begun construction on a one-mile stretch of 10’ wide pathway within Grand Ravines County Park and along 42nd Avenue in Jenison. This mile of trail will connect Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale to Grand Ravines.
“We are very enthused about this project because it connects the university to our area’s wonderful parks, is safer for students as well as residents, and is one more step in the county’s plan to preserve the beauty and heritage of the region,” said Loren Rullman, vice provost for Student Affairs and dean of students at Grand Valley State University.
This segment of trail was funded through the Ottawa County Parks Foundation’s Grand River Greenway Campaign in partnership with Ottawa County Parks and Georgetown Township. The funding from these organizations leveraged a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
The one-mile segment of trail is a small, but crucial component of the Grand River Greenway, a multi-year initiative to conserve high quality land along the Grand River and connect the land with a trail stretching from Grand Rapids to Grand Haven.
This trail, named the Idema Explorers Trail after a generous $2 million donation from the Bill and Bea Idema Foundation, is being constructed in phases along the south side of the Grand River. Once completed, the non-motorized, multi-use pathway will be 35 miles in length and will connect together eight county and state parks in Ottawa County. It will also connect:
- Millennium Park to Grand Haven
- The Grand Valley State University campuses together
- Hundreds of miles of regional trails including a direct route to downtown Grand Rapids through a number of local communities
“There are seven miles of riverfront in Georgetown Township, but for most of our residents access to the river that is bikeable and walkable isn’t available,” said Georgetown Township Supervisor Jim Wierenga. “The work that was completed earlier this year on Cottonwood Drive, and this segment on 42nd Avenue, moves us closer to creating more recreation access on the Grand River.”
This segment of trail also connects Grand Ravines to the M-45 business district in Allendale. “Allendale kind of feels like the golden railroad spike: the trail is approaching us from both the east and west, with Allendale being the point where both sections will meet,” said Adam Ellenbaas, Allendale’s Township Supervisor. “Plans for the upcoming Allendale segment will allow users to enjoy the scenic route or branch off to connect with local businesses.”
“We are so excited to have these trail connections closer to home,” said Janessa Smit, Allendale Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “In addition to safe, family-friendly bike paths being important to our residents and students, Allendale’s M-45 business corridor is uniquely positioned to benefit from the increased economic activity trails like this one are shown to attract.”
The Parks Foundation funding was made possible through its Grand River Greenway Campaign which is co-chaired by Peter Secchia, Monica Verplank, and Samantha Verplank. To complete the entire project, more funding is needed and donor engagement is ongoing. To help ensure that the $41 million, multi-decade Greenway project is completed, $1.1 million in philanthropic funding is still needed.
“We are trying to build a sensational trail from the sands of Lake Michigan to the cold-water spring fed lakes of Kent County’s Millennium Park,” said Secchia. “GVSU is an important connection along the way and we’d prefer to see the students there have safer access to the river and the parks.”
In addition to the new segment of Idema Explorers Trail along 42nd Avenue being an important transportation route for GVSU students and faculty, it also sets the stage for important future connections/amenities including:
- Future connections to Georgetown and Allendale Townships and protected park spaces in those communities
- Safe cycling and running routes to both Grand Haven and Kent County
Fleis and Vandenbrink out of Grand Rapids, Michigan designed this segment of the project and Stein Construction out of Ravenna, Michigan is handling construction.
Quick Facts about the Ravines connector segment of the Idema Explorers Trail
Map available news.miottawa.org/
Quick Facts about the Grand River Greenway
- The Grand River Greenway includes 14 county parks properties totaling over 2,700 acres of land
- It features the Grand River Heritage Water Trail for paddlers and the Historic River Road, a historic features tour for motorists
- There are over 5,000 acres of public land owned by other agencies between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids
To help complete the Greenway, the Parks Foundation launched the Grand River Greenway Campaign which is now only $1.1 million from completing its fund-raising goal. To learn more or donate, visit ottawacountyparksfoundation.