Senate panel approves Huizenga’s NRTF funding bill

Measure includes 13 projects in Kent and Ottawa counties

LANSING, Mich. – The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved Sen. Mark Huizenga’s legislation to support $84.6 million in the development and acquisition of parks and trails throughout Michigan.

“The people of Michigan created the Natural Resources Trust Fund to invest constitutionally restricted funds in vibrant parks and recreational resources to improve their quality of life and access to our great outdoors,” said Huizenga, R-Walker. . “This legislation provides significant funding to support huge projects across the state and in West Michigan that will improve outdoor recreation options for families and tourists, while helping to encourage lifestyles assets and good health and to attract new talent and jobs.”

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 would authorize 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.

“My bill would provide more than $4 million in trust fund grants to help West Michigan communities make more than $14.3 million in total improvements to public outdoor spaces,” Huizenga said. “These exciting local projects illustrate the purpose of the trust fund in supporting the expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities for families throughout our region.

Kent County projects include a total of $900,000 in grants for the development of $3.96 million of 4,464 feet of non-motorized Rivers Edge Trail from Ann Street to Leonard Street in Grand Rapids with a river frontage along the east bank of the Grand River. All three segments include underpasses, a 12-foot-wide shared-use pathway accessible to all, 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 Bill grants for trail projects in Kent and Ottawa counties include:

  • $300,000 for a $1.4 million 2.1-mile development of the River Valley Rail-Trail through the town of Lowell, including a pedestrian bridge over the Grand River. This trail is part of the 125 mile Fred Meijer Mid-West Regional Trail System.
  • $300,000 for a $1.5 million project to build an Iron Belle-North Country Trail connector at Luton Park in Cannon Township, along with a trail map, bike repair station, benches , a rain garden and bike racks.
  • $300,000 for a $3.5 million development of a 2.3-mile segment of the Idema Explorers Trail that will provide the last non-motorized connection between the existing trail and Grand Haven – completing a 13-mile path between Grand Haven Pier and Riverside Park.

SB 1028 also offers 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 existing asphalt pathways, 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 includes a trail map kiosk, LED lighting, benches, bike racks, grills, picnic tables, serving tables and a reading trail.
  • $231,300 towards $462,600 for improvements to the Buck Creek trailhead at Mill Race Park in Grandville, including the addition of a pavilion, interpretive signs, a naturescape playground, a trail loop with a bridge over Buck Creek, native plantings and a parking lot.
  • $300,000 for a $604,600 development of Grand Rogue Park in Plainfield Charter Township at the confluence of the Rogue and Grand Rivers to add the first water access to the site via a dock, boat launch water kayaking and an observation deck. It also includes a pavilion, road and parking lot, as well as upgrades to existing play equipment, benches, picnic tables, gates, bike racks and signage.
  • $237,000 for a $474,000 project to renovate Ottawa County Kirk Park washrooms and install a new accessible playground and trailhead amenities for three key regional trails.
  • $152,600 for a $305,200 development of the new 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 network of public trails the city has built over the past 10 years to improve walking and connectivity within the city and surrounding townships.

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

  • $1.12 million for 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 birding opportunities and access to Bear Creek for fishing. Conceptual planning envisions three miles of trails, a connection to the existing park, parking for the trail system, and a pavilion with sweeping views of the landscape.
  • $44,800 for the $89,600 acquisition of 0.77 acres in the Plaza Roosevelt neighborhood of Grand Rapids to develop a public park to serve nearby residents and children attending a school immediately adjacent to the new park .

SB 1028 is now heading to the full Senate for review.


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