For many Spring Lake residents, the renovation of Tanglefoot Park is a no-brainer.
Plans are underway to redo the former RV park into a community hub that would also serve as a water gateway to the Village’s redeveloped downtown.
The top ideas to come out of community engagement meetings last year were an accessible kayak launch, a splash pad and a building to be used year-round.
“What we're trying to do is open up the waterfront to the public,” says Angela Stanford-Butler, the village’s Downtown Development Authority director.
RV park closure
The park, on West Exchange Street at the Grand River, operated since 1935 as a recreational vehicle park until it closed last year to replace sewer lines. The village used the hiatus as an opportunity to re-evaluate the use of the land.
Critics of the closure lament the community will lose income from renting out the 30 camper spaces. Each rented out for about $3,100 a season. The park’s boat slips are still being used and generate income for the village.A renovation is planned for Tanglefoot Park
The project comes as the community’s major waterfront park, Mill Point, is closed due to high water.
Tanglefoot was deeded to the community more than a century ago by a local family, who wanted it to remain available to the public for recreational use.
“The redevelopment of this prime public space feels like it’s more in keeping with the wishes of the Thum family that date back to 1916,” says Christine Burns, Spring Lake Village manager.
“We believe their intent was to ensure the waterfront remained open for the entire community to enjoy. The Tanglefoot focus group is going to great lengths to create a space that people of all abilities will be able to enjoy year-round.”
Seeking state grant funds
The park transformation is expected to cost between $3 million and $3.5 million. Anonymous donors have contributed $1 million to kickstart a campaign to raise private donations.
Stanford-Butler is finishing up an application for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant that would underwrite a significant portion of the costs.
Tanglefoot Park was used as an RV park from 1935-2018.
Plans call for constructing a year-around community building on the parkland that could be rented out for farmers' markets, wedding receptions, and art exhibits.
Renovation is on track to begin in 2021 and is expected to take 6-8 months to complete.
Main street renaissance
The park’s makeover comes as the village’s main street is undergoing its own renaissance. Several of those projects are being developed by Kim Van Kampen, a longtime seasonal resident and community patron.
“We're trying as a community to bring in families and younger people just out of school who want a cool, hip, walkable town to live in,” Stanford-Butler says.
Plans include making the park ADA accessible with a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier and kayak launch.
“We want it accessible to everyone. It's public, it belongs to all of us,” Stanford-Butler says.
This article is part of The Lakeshore, a new featured section of Rapid Growth focused on West Michigan's Lakeshore region. Over the coming months, Rapid Growth will be expanding to cover the complex challenges in this community by focusing on the organizations, projects, programs and individuals working to improve conditions and solve problems for their region. As the coverage continues, look for The Lakeshore publication, coming in 2020.
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