Spring Lake campaign raising final funds for Tanglefoot Park renovation

The Village of Spring Lake has launched a capital campaign to raise the final $200,000 of its $1.5 million commitment toward the redevelopment of Tanglefoot Park. 

The $3.5 million project, being led by the village’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA), will continue through Dec. 31. Construction is scheduled to begin mid- to late summer and wrap by the end of the year.

The waterfront property was given to the village in 1916 to be used as a public park in perpetuity. But its use morphed as it became a popular destination for small trailers towed by cars in the mid- to late 1930s. 

With the growing interstate highway system making it easier — and faster — to travel farther, GIs returning from World War II solidified the practice when they saw it as an inexpensive way to vacation and see the nation. As trailers gave way to much larger RVs, Tanglefoot went from a public park to a space that felt very exclusive. 

Community excluded

“While the summer renters enjoyed the beautiful riverfront view, the rest of the community did not. For up to six months of the year, the community was excluded from the river view, and for the other six they were left with a rather unattractive collection of concrete pads and dead grass,” says DDA Director Angela Stanford-Butler.

There was a growing clamor by residents to make the park more community-friendly.

“Just because it’s what we’ve always done, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to continue to do,” says Christine Burns, village manager. “While the users loved it and we love having them as neighbors throughout the summer months, some community members were expressing disappointment with the arrangement.” 

In 2018, a park shutdown was required to repair the park’s access road. Burns and the DDA decided it was time for some public engagement. Notices mailed to every household in the village requested the community attend meetings to share their thoughts. 

Project to cost $3.5 million

Burns says decommissioning the RV park was the No. 1 recommendation from the community. 

Since the park’s closure three years ago, Tanglefoot Park redevelopment has been a DDA and village priority. A steering committee of community residents was formed, and conceptual renderings were created by Progressive AE, an architectural and engineering firm from Grand Rapids. 

The concepts looked at the possibilities of what the property could be by adding the amenities recommended by the community at the public engagement meetings. The Village Council approved the redevelopment in 2019. A Request for Proposal for the Design/Build and Management of the project went out in February and the DDA awarded the project to Holland firm GDK Construction Co. in March. 

Redevelopment costs are projected to be $3.5 million. With $1.3 million in private donations and grants already committed, the capital campaign is looking to raise an additional $200,000 in funds from public and private donors along with additional grants. 

Multiple ways to get involved

“The campaign committee will be working on a calendar of events and multiple ways that the community can get involved and be a part of bringing Tanglefoot Park back to life,” says Stanford-Butler.

The balance will be bonded for by the DDA. The project comes as the village has been experiencing a boom in development. 

“Village residents now have a project that they can support and be a part of. The return of Tanglefoot Park is going to be such an enhancement to village living, and we’re looking forward to everyone’s support,” Burn says. 

The public can follow the process on the Tanglefoot Park Facebook Page.

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.