Thursday, September 17, 2009

Allegan County Parks Suffer Under Cool Summer

covered walkway Allegan park
covered walkway at New Richmond Bridge Park (photo from the Holland Sentinel, used under Creative Commons license)
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based on a news article in the Holland Sentinel

The covered walkway at the New Richmond Bridge Park in Manlius Township, near Holland, Michigan is nearly complete. The covered walkway was required by CSX railroad to protect people from falling stones and other items from the bridge. It is just one of the many improvements at the park, yet work is proceeding slowly because of the wet summer. The boat launch is being paved and a new handicapped accessible dock installed. Other projects include a new toilet building, five fishing piers, about 14,000 feet of boardwalk on both sides of the river and interpretive signs. But the boat launch area has been underwater most of the summer.

Some of the park system woes are financial. Four of the five Allegan County Parks (Dumont Lake, Gun Lake, Littlejohn Lake and West Side) charge a $5 entry fee, Fridays through Sundays, and on holidays in the summer. The cool weather has meant that there have been fewer visitors in the parks, and thus lower revenues.

Kevin Ricco, director of Allegan County Parks, Recreation and Tourism, looked out his window to a weekend of gray skies and drizzle. He noted that most people just don't want to come outside to play in such weather. This is bad news for park improvements, since half of the funds collected go into the parks' capital fund.

The most popular Allegan County Park is Dumont Lake. The design of the park has a lot to do with that, Ricco said. "Parents can see all the key parts of the park — playground, lakefront, bathrooms — from one central point. They don’t have to chase their kids around to keep an eye on them."

See Allegan County Parks and Recreation
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