For 30 years it has been the policy of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission that recreation facilities not be named for individuals.
But if you have enough money to donate that might change. In fact, an exception has already been made when Grand Rapids retailing magnate Fred Meijer donated $1 million. That money paid for improvements to pave portions of the White Pine Trail between Comstock Park and Cadillac. But the gift was conditional, and the trail is now named the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail.
The Natural Resources Commission will review their policy next month. If approved, there may be more funding available for trails and other facilities from individuals or estates that would like to see their name honored.
The down side is that there will be no big rush to donate money for projects which cannot be renamed. Natural resources such as rivers or lakes cannot be renamed. Facilities which are already named for an individual would not be changed, and deed restrictions may apply.
The North Country Trail has already felt the pain of the conditional gift when Meijer declined to donate any substantial amount of money to support this National Scenic Trail because his name could not be incorporated into the trail name.
More money for outdoor recreation is always good, but it's sometimes hard to swallow that lump of egotism that may soon play a bigger role in private giving.
by Joan H. Young
additional material from the Grand Rapids Press, "Pick your park, name it for yourself", by Jim Harger, Jan 12, 2008
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