Subject: Summer news from Kent County Parks

August, 2014
Dear Friend,

We hope you're having a great summer and are finding a little time to enjoy Kent County's parks and trails!  Here are some updates for you on park and trail projects and events.

Sandy Hansen Shoreline Trail

Thanks to a memorial gift received this spring, improvements are coming to the trails surrounding the main recreation lake at Millennium Park, which will now be known as the Sandy Hansen Shoreline Trails.

Sandy is remembered for her love of nature and birds, a legacy she shared with her three children and eleven grandchildren. She volunteered for West Michigan Environmental Action Council, was active in the Audubon Society, and was a long-time supporter of the Kent County Parks Foundation. When she passed away earlier this year, her husband of 49 years, Dick Hansen, along with their children, Beth, Rick, Kristi and the grandchildren, decided to memorialize Sandy's love of nature and parks through a gift to Millennium Park.

Dick and Sandy Hansen previously funded construction of the Hansen Nature Trail through a unique natural fen at the western edge of the park. The new gift will allow us to build a boardwalk through a scenic wetland, connecting the Hansen Nature Trail to the Sandy Hansen Shoreline Trails. Click here for a map of the Hansen Trails.

We are very grateful to the Hansen family for this generous gift to the community. With this funding, we'll complete an area of trails that is already extremely popular, and provide greatly improved access to a unique natural area that many park visitors rarely get to see.

Peter Wege, 1920-2014
Environmental Philanthropist

Peter Wege’s name was synonymous with the environment as well as philanthropy, and he combined both with his generous donations to Kent County Parks.

The Wege Foundation was a donor to the acquisition of Pickerel Lake in 1990. In 2000, Mr. Wege was asked to be the lead-off donor for the acquisition and development of what is now Millennium Park. He enthusiastically agreed and Millennium Park is now a favorite destination for many in our community. And just this year, the Wege Foundation provided a grant to help expand Two Rivers Park by acquiring an additional 170 acres. When that park is fully developed, it will certainly take its place as a favorite in the community. 

Through his vision and generosity, Mr. Wege helped shape local environmental movements and invigorate recreational efforts, and our community is much stronger and healthier because of him.

Millennium Park Meadows Coming Soon!

In more Millennium Park news, across Maynard Ave from the main recreation area we'll soon start developing new public facilities thanks to the generosity of the Peter Secchia family. Envisioned in the park's original master plan, the new meadows area is expected to include trails, an open picnic shelter, parking, an outdoor seating area for group events and other features. We'll have more information to share on this gift to the community as plans are finalized. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2015. Stay tuned!

New Trail Links In The Works!

Two major construction projects are coming soon for key links in the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail and the Fred Meijer Pioneer Trail.

Along the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail, we have a gap between current endpoints at 68th Street and 60th Street. The new connection will be on the east of East Paris Ave and tie in with the road to use the bridge that crosses over M-6. The Kent County Road Commission will restripe a portion of East Paris to eliminate the left turn lane and realign the northbound lane, providing ample room for trail to share the bridge.

On the Fred Meijer Pioneer Trail, we'll be developing a new off-road trail along 3 Mile Rd, between Walker and Alpine Avenues. Eventually, the Pioneer Trail will continue to the east and north, connecting to the Fred Meijer White Pine State Trail at Lamoreaux Memorial Park on North Park Dr.

KDL's Summer Reading Online Program Promotes County Parks

This summer, Kent County Parks has been partnering with the Kent District Library (KDL) to encourage kids to read AND explore our community, and our county parks and trails. Participants who read books or complete activities can enter a raffle for prizes, including free boating at Millennium Park and even a 2015 Family Season Pass to the beach and splashpad at Millennium Park.  The program runs through Aug 9, so there's still time to join in!

Visit the KDL Experience Summer website to learn more.

Something's Grilling 
2014 Fundraiser

As the nonprofit partner of Kent County Parks, the Kent County Parks Foundation supports the expansion, development and improvement of our county parks and trails. The Foundation’s biggest fundraiser is a fun biennial event called Something’s Grilling, which will take place this year on September 4 at Millennium Park.

The 2014 Something’s Grilling celebrates the 10th anniversary of the opening of Millennium Park. The event will feature music, food and drinks, and an entertaining “grilling” of Steve Heacock, who was chair of the Kent County Board of Commissioners when the County committed to creating Millennium Park.

Proceeds benefit the Foundation’s efforts to expand and improve our parks and trails. For more information or to purchase tickets or reserve a table, please call Pattijean McCahill at (616) 458-2080 or

Update: Wabasis Boat Ramp Reconstruction

Much of the work on the new boat launch at Wabasis Lake Park is now complete and all ramps are paved and open for public use. Final steps include installing boardwalks and lighting. We've been experiencing a few delays on these final phases of the project, due to rainy weather and high water, but hope to get them done soon. 

Update: Luton Park 10 Mile Road Trailhead

Work is continuing on the new 10 Mile Rd trailhead for Luton Park. When complete, this new trailhead will provide much-improved access to the park and will have paved spaces for more than 120 cars. Eventually, the trailhead will also accommodate an additional cars in 60 overflow spaces. Most of the work on the new trailhead has now been completed, with paving and site restoration remaining.  On our current schedule, we're expecting the new Luton trailhead to open this fall. All trails at Luton Park remain open during construction.

Volunteers News

A big thank you to our amazing volunteers who have been pitching in at various Kent County Parks to remove invasive species, clean up green spaces and trails, and participate in special environmental projects! And thank you to our “Park and Trail Steward” volunteers who are currently supporting Millennium Park, Palmer Park, Provin Trails Park, Lamoreaux Park, Luton Park and Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve! If you'd like to have fun while making a difference, you're invited to participate in the “Kent County Parks Annual Fall Clean Up” event which begins in September.

For more information on Volunteer Services events, programs and projects, contact Ginny Sines at 616-632-7842 or
1700 Butterworth Dr SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534, United States
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