Corner Monumentation Is Remarkable Effort

June 21, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — When Kent County Commission Chairman Steve Heacock called the endeavor a “monumental effort,” he drew some laughs and more than a few groans from those in the audience. But, at the same time, his play on words was right on target.

Heacock made his comment about the Remonumentation Program, a 20-year effort to mark off every Kent County corner in a one-mile section with three-foot high monuments. The exhaustive and detailed work of setting 4,063 monuments began when Ronald Reagan was president and current U.S. Congressman Vern Ehlers chaired the county commission. It ended just a few weeks ago.

“That was a lot of digging and a lot of setting,” said Harvey Hubers, who directed the program with County Deputy Director of Equalization Matt Woolford.

Hubers pointed out that a giving group of private-sector surveyors joined the county in the monumental task. He said that the surveyors donated at least $750,000 worth of their time and talents to the project.

“As for the Kent County surveyor firms, I can’t thank them enough,” he added.

Hubers said one reason why the project was so successful was that Williams & Works Inc. gave the effort over 100 years worth of property records. Then Heacock noted that T.C. Williams, father of Williams & Works Principal Steve Williams, and Dick Westra were the “visionary forces” behind the program.

Nineteen county employees and surveyors were honored with plaques that marked their contributions to the program. In addition to Williams, Hubers and Ehlers, Jeff Baker, Kirk Breitels, Jack Bueche, Bill Byl, Tom Chettleburgh, Jon Denhof, Bill DeYoung, David Groenieer, Rob Jonker, Randy Kolehouse, Jim Leitch, Gene Major, Chris Marschall, Tom Starr, Jim Swanson and Randy Vugteveen were singled out for their participation.

A reception for those involved with the project was hosted by Williams & Works.

So why is such a re-marking project considered so remarkable?

Because it establishes ownership rights and a research system for property corners. It also makes the task of recording property more precise, and provides accurate data for a digital mapping system. The program’s results are being sent to the Grand Valley Metro Council for use in its Regional Geographic Information System.

In turn, the work will help developers pinpoint the boundaries of properties they own or have an interest in, and make it easier to build roads and lay utilities.

Kent was the first county in Michigan to undertake and complete such a program. Now, every county in the state is doing one. The local project cost slightly more than $3 million. The county picked up about $1.8 million of that tab, while the state paid for the remainder. The state will fund the continuation of the local program, which requires that 1/20th of all the corners be checked annually.

Prior to the monuments being set, county corners were tagged with all kinds of markers over the years. Just a few of the items that surveyors found were bricks, stones, wooden posts and a wagon axle. Even a shotgun barrel was used at one corner, which not only marked the corner but also the end of a lengthy feud between property owners.

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