The Barry County Parks and Recreation Board has been notified by the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund (MNRTF) that the McKeown Bridge Park Development Project has been recommended to receive a grant of $215,300. The Parks and Recreation Board submitted a grant application for 64% of the total project costs of $336,465 in April 2008. The project will upgrade the County owned McKeown Bridge Park located at the corner of McKeown Road and Nashville Road, 2 miles east of the City of Hastings across from Thornapple Manor. The project will make the park accessible to persons with disabilities and includes fishing/overlook decks, wetland boardwalks, paved walkways, a canoe launch, parking improvements, picnic and restroom facilities and native plantings.
The 25 acre park site includes nearly 2000 linear feet of frontage on the Thornapple River in Hastings Township. The current McKeown Bridge Park was created on 2.3 acres when a new road bridge was built in 1997. McKeown Bridge is the only remaining steel truss bridge in Barry County and a state registered historic site. Over 20 acres of the County owned property north of the river and west of McKeown Road have been left undeveloped and essentially unused for many years. The new Parks and Recreation Board decided on a natural focus for the site, which includes land identified as a high priority for conservation.
The primary goal of the project development is to provide improved access to the Thornapple River for fishing, canoeing and wildlife viewing. The proposed project will create a fishing pier adjacent to the bridge and closer to the water level, accessed via a barrier-free ramp to enable persons using wheelchairs to fish at this popular location. A covered viewing deck will provide a shaded seating area offering scenic views of the historic bridge and the river and a quiet location to watch others fish. A second fishing/ river overlook deck is proposed on the north side of the river. The proposed project will also construct a hard surfaced walk to an improved canoe/kayak launch, with enhanced parking, signage and much needed restroom facilities.
The master plan for the park and initial grant application was undertaken by M.C. Smith Associates, a landscape design and park planning firm based in East Grand Rapids, with substantial input from the Barry County Parks and Recreation Board and Thornapple Manor staff. Pledges of matching funds for the project have been secured from Thornapple Manor and the DHS Board as well as the County General Fund. Materials and labor for a native grass and plant area will be donated by the Barry Conservation District. A capital fund raising campaign is underway by the Parks and Recreation Board to solicit private donations for the project to reduce the need for matching funds.
The McKeown Bridge project was one of 44 development projects to be selected for funding out of 86 eligible applications. The Board will now be looking to select a design firm to complete construction plans for the project, with construction expected to begin in fall 2009 or spring 2010.
For additional information please contact Warren Wheeler firstname.lastname@example.org
Page Last Modified: February 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm