This map shows the four regions covered by the four upcoming meetings.

Input sought this summer for Kalamazoo River Greenway

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

What do you envision for the future of the Kalamazoo River corridor in Allegan County? Now’s the time for community members to voice their ideas.

A Kalamazoo River Greenway community meeting for the state game and central Allegan County area is Thursday, July 26, at 7 p.m. at Griswold Auditorium, 401 Hubbard St., Allegan. 

“Is there something about it you treasure, find of value, have an interest in, or have ideas for such as certain rights for development or restoring public accesses?” said Tracey Nally development and communications manager for the Outdoor Discovery Center. “We’re collecting suggestions for a pretty extensive master plan that gives a road map to its future.”

As part of a state funded effort to create a long term plan for the Kalamazoo River from Plainwell to Lake Michigan, the City of Allegan along with Allegan, Trowbridge and Valley townships will be hosting the meeting with partners GMB Engineering and Outdoor Discovery Center to better understand the state game area and central portion of the Kalamazoo River from approximately 26th Street (Trowbridge Dam) to M-89. 

The Outdoor Discovery Center Network has been commissioned with a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to develop a master plan to connect Allegan County communities with a greenway corridor addressing environmental restoration, recreation, conservation and education.

The Outdoor Discovery Center was the lead partner for the Macatawa Greenway project, which now permanently protects, connects, and restores nearly 10 miles of river edge land and floodplain forest.

Along the Greenway, visitors have more than a mile of paved trail and almost four miles of hiking trails providing people with recreational opportunities in the heart of the Holland/Zeeland community. The Greenway also provides a wildlife corridor for animal habitats along with viewing platforms that overlook them.

“State Rep. Mary Whiteford saw what was done with that project and asked if we could do a Kalamazoo River Greenway,” Nally said.

At a recent Allegan Township board meeting, Whiteford said with the Macatawa Greenway, “They took some state money, then some federal money came in and some private money came in and over 20 years, they had it.

“This is modeled off of that—getting everybody’s voices together and coming up with a community-wide plan,” she said. “Then we can leverage that time, energy and those resources to get some things done.”

Whiteford said one of the safety issues the plan can look at is river access.

“That came up in Otsego when somebody fell into the river and the police couldn’t get to this person because there were no access points,” she said. “So let’s determine some access points for safety. Let’s determine where there are kayak put-in points. Let’s determine where some trails or bike trails can be. But let the community be involved in this decision.”

The master plan is to be completed by December. With it in hand, grants can be sought.

 

Other upcoming meetings include:

Otsego/Plainwell Area: Wednesday, Aug. 1, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Gun Plain Township Hall, 381 Eighth St., Plainwell. This meeting focuses on Gun Plain, Otsego, and Martin townships.

Rabbit River Watershed Area: Tuesday, Aug. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Salem Township Hall, 3003 142nd Ave., Dorr.

Saugatuck/Douglas/ Potawatomi Area: Wednesday, Aug. 15, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Saugatuck Brewing Company, 2948 Blue Star Hwy., Douglas.

For more information on the Kalamazoo River Greenway, visit outdoordiscovery.org/ conservation/kalamazoo-river-greenway.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@ allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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