From the newsletter: Summer a great time to explore the parks

New signs ahead, new commissioner on board, surveys ready for new master plan.

Editor’s note: This column by Jeremy Van Hoven appears in the summer Laketown Township newsletter which should be arriving in your mailbox this coming week.

A hiker in a hammock enjoys the view at Sanctuary Woods in this picture from last summer.

Summertime is finally here! It’s a great time to get out and enjoy nature at its fullest. It’s by far my most favorite time of the year. It’s a time that I become a full-time beach-bum (at least on the weekends). It’s hard to believe how fortunate we are that such a vast sea-sized lake borders the western edge of our township buffeted by such magnificent sand dunes. It’s a time when our beach park sees the most activity by residents and visitors alike.

Explore the parks

Summertime is also a great time to explore our many parks and take in the beauty that they bestow: A time to hike the many trails or tour on a bicycle along the non-motorized multi-use path that cuts through our township both north and south along Beeline Road and 62nd Street and also east and west along 147th Avenue. A time to fish and swim, soak up the sun, picnic, you name it.

Summertime also brings a time when our parks are the busiest. I would strongly encourage those that visit any one of our parks to be sure to always clean up after your stay and take back with you whatever you bring in. If you see any garbage, please pick it up if you are able. Every little bit is a big help in keeping our parks beautiful and natural.

We want to be good stewards of the parks and open spaces that we are blessed with within our township.

New signs

The parks and recreation commission has been working for the last two years on a sign project for our parks that is in its final stages. There will be two signs in each park.

The first sign will be a welcoming sign that will include a brief history of the park, a map of the trails leading through the park and any rules that would be applicable for that particular park.

The secondary sign will be located within the park and will include information and pictures about the wildlife, plant life and ecosystems that can be found within that particular park.

The signs will be a welcomed upgrade over the existing ones and will add an extra layer of beauty as they are tastefully done. I wanted to give special thanks to Patty Meyer and also Mary Chiz from Pulse Design for taking the reins on the project and providing such great talent to see this project through.

New member

Also this summer, we welcome a new member, Brad Laninga. Brad will bring many new talents to our group, and I cannot wait for the opportunity to work with him.

Five-year plan

This summer also brings a time that the parks commission is working on our new five-year plan. The five-year plan is a necessary document which needs to be published to outline our long-term goals for our parks and to apply for grants which help fund our parks projects. This is an important time to interact with the commission to help us set goals and plans that align with what the residents want to see in our parks. 

Some of the goals/plans from the 2018 five-year plan have come to fruition. We were able to purchase some adjacent land by the beach park and the in-holding parcel that was flanked by the park on three sides which now allows better and more direct access to the lake from the parking area. We also installed pickleball courts at the township hall park. Trails at Huyser Farm Park received new markers to help guide and direct travel.

Fill out survey

In this newsletter there is a questionnaire/survey that I would strongly encourage taking the time to fill out and turn back into the township so we can tabulate the results and use that information to help us set goals for the future of our parks and cement them into the new five-year plan. I would also encourage you to attend a parks commission meeting and offer your ideas and insights.  Every little bit, even if you think might be insignificant, is a big help.

The survey is available online through Aug. 31 here.

Hope to see you at the parks!

Jeremy Van Hoven is chairperson of the Laketown Township Parks and Recreation Commission. He can be reached by calling (616) 335-3050.