Government, Nonprofits, and Sustainability

County building suspension bridge

May 29, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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suspension bridge
A person walks across a suspension bridge. Courtesy Ottawa County

A $350,000 suspension bridge is coming to a West Michigan park.

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation officially launched last month its status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with an announcement with the county of a suspension bridge at Grand Ravines Park.

The structure will be 250-feet long and 70-feet high.

“The suspension bridge and the trail leading to it are a perfect example of how private funds can provide the margin of excellence to help the park system go from good to great,” said Mark Oppenhuizen, Ottawa County Parks Foundation board member and founding member of the Ottawa County Parks Commission.

The bridge will connect the trails on the north and south sides of the park, previously separated by the ravine.

“When the master plan was created for Grand Ravines, those beautiful deep ravines made it challenging to design a viable hiking trail system,” said David VanGinhoven, president of the Ottawa County Parks Commission and board member of the foundation. “Crossing a major ravine with a trail was unavoidable, and a suspension bridge was added into the plan, but we knew it was an amenity that may never be financially feasible.”

The funds for the project were donated by Beatrice “Bea” Aldrink Idema. The bridge will be fully ADA accessible, with a paved path to one side of the bridge, funded by Ray and Alma Statema, who also donated an easement to make the trails possible, according to VanGinhoven.

The parks commission has received many donations over the years, resulting in the formation of the foundation. In the past, the Grand Ravine overlook was donated by the Aldrink family, and the dog park received support from users, Chow Hound Pet Supplies, veterinarians and the Hudsonville-Jenison Community Foundation.

“While the community has been incredibly generous, we have learned that many people would prefer to donate to a nonprofit rather than a government organization. That interest is a big reason, along with many others, why the parks foundation was formed,” said Tom Werkman, the foundation’s board president. “We are excited to continue to provide that margin of excellence to the parks system.”

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