• In the fall of 2017, the current owner offered to sell the property based on an appraisal of $11.2 million and donate 25% of the land value to serve as match in a grant proposal for $8.4 million to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF).
• In December 2017, the MNRTF Board recommended that a $4.2 million grant be awarded in 2018, with encouragement to submit a phase two grant request for the remaining funds needed in 2019.
• Ottawa County Parks submitted a grant request from the MNRTF for phase two in April 2018. If approved, Ottawa County Parks will be notified in December 2018.
• In June the state grant agreement for phase one (188 acres) was received and approved by Ottawa County.
• The Land Conservancy of West Michigan has agreed to purchase the second parcel of property (157 acres) and hold it until grant funding becomes available in 2019.
If all aspects of the acquisition proceed smoothly, the county will acquire 188 acres of the 345-acre site by August 1 and the Land Conservancy will utilize loan from The Conservation Fund to acquire the remaining 157 acres at the same time. “In order to secure this property for the public the purchase needed to happen in full, but we only have grant funding for just over half of the property at this point. The Land Conservancy really stepped up and for that we are very grateful. Without them, the opportunity to purchase this land would not have been possible,” said John Scholtz, Ottawa County Parks Director.
The loan agreement from The Conservation Fund will cover the approximately 4 million dollar purchase price for the second half of the property. The Land Conservancy will launch a fundraising campaign later this summer to cover costs related to the land acquisition. While the purchase agreement and the loan from the Conservation Fund are significant steps in protecting this property, it will not be permanently secured until the loan is paid off and the fundraising is complete. The land owner has generously offered approximately $1.5 million as a contribution in the project and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund will look to make a commitment to the project in 2019.