'Wonderful collaboration' transforming Spring Lake waterfront park

This week, construction begins on Spring Lake Village’s long-awaited Tanglefoot Park. The former seasonal RV/trailer park will be reconfigured into a pavilion, splash pad, and kayak launch. When it’s completed in May 2022, the park will offer Universal Accessibility for strollers, wheelchairs and individuals with mobility issues.

Village Council members and other local officials gathered Aug. 20 to officially launch the construction project by turning shovels during a groundbreaking ceremony at the riverfront park.

An overhaul of the waterfront park has been in the works for about three years, but the seed was planted nearly a decade ago when a council member questioned if the city land was serving the greater good. For decades, spaces at the park were rented out for RVs and trailers, generating income for the community.  

“He said, ‘I don't think that this is the highest and best use for this property. There's a deed restriction that said it had to be open to the public, and it felt very exclusive,’” says Village Manager Chris Burns. 

Moving forward the current vision for the park required teamwork. The Downtown Development Authority is bridging that gap in funding. A community campaign is raising $1.5 million in donations. The Parks and Recreation Department and the Village Council have been laying much of the groundwork. 

“It’s been a wonderful collaboration,” says Burns. “It’s going to be a beautiful project.”

She praised contractor GDK from Holland and the project’s subcontractors for working so well with the village. 

Spring Lake Village President Mark Powers speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for Tanglefoot Park.

Something lasting

Village President Mark Powers echoed the sentiment during the ceremony, praising the village’s staff, generous donors, and volunteers for moving the project forward.

“Days like this come around once in a while,” Powers says, standing next to village leaders and local officials with their ceremonial shovels. “What's been done to achieve something here will be lasting, and I think that this was a wise decision and a proper decision about how to use this area. I'm very glad that I played a small role in that, and I'm very glad that others came forward and did all the hard work necessary to make this happen.”

Community donations

Sandy Parker, the owner of On the Path Yoga in Spring Lake, plans to give the project donations she’s collected from the free community yoga class she leads on Sunday mornings in Central Park.

“I've been taking donations all summer for the Tanglefoot Park renovations. We’re probably close to $750,” Parker says. 

The park will be transformational for the small northern Ottawa County community, she believes. 

She’s excited about the addition of a permanent place for the village’s farmers market, a kayak launch, and a splash pad.

“I've always felt like we need more places with public access to the water that's all around us,” Parker says. “I live on River Street, and the river is something that's kind of hard to access, actually. When this was a trailer park, it always felt like you were in somebody else's space, and this is really a public space. Soon, it will be a place for everyone to sit and enjoy the river.”

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