Laketown Township is adding to its parks system.
The township board agreed on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to purchase 2.5 acres of land and a house already bordered on three sides by 36.5 acres of Wolters Woods Park. The purchase price — $356,428.50.
The township closed on the property Monday, Nov. 14.
“I think it’s a terrific, terrific opportunity and I don’t think it will come around again in our lifetime,” said board member Jim Johnson about the purchase.
The area is growing fast with new developments popping up in the area bordered by the City of Holland.
Supervisor Linda Howell noted that the parcel is surrounded on three sides by parkland that needs to be overseen by the township.
“The best way to protect it … is to buy it,” she said.
Trustee Jim Dalaney opposed the purchase.
The township already has infrastructure in need of repair, he said.
“We should not be shelling out $350-K,” he said. “We have so many other things we can use the money for.”
Several residents spoke against the purchase saying that taxes are too high and the township doesn’t need the added expense of another house.
Jeremy Van Hoven, who is related to the Wolters family, supported the purchase.
“This is an excellent opportunity to continue the legacy that has been started with the original purchase of the surrounding properties back in the early ‘90s,” he wrote in a letter to the township board. Van Hoven is also a member of the township Parks and Recreation Commission.
The board voted 4-1 to buy the land.
The Rev. Lloyd Wolters, owner of the 2.5 acres, passed away Oct. 7. He and his family were instrumental in the creation of the surrounding Wolters Woods Park, 6281 147th Ave., in 1992.
The 2.5 acres including the three-bedroom, three-bath 2,260-square-foot house, 6289 147th Ave., was listed for sale last month for $240,000, and offers poured in. A weekend open house was overflowing with interested buyers, according to township officials who attended the event. Johnson called it “an absolute frenzy.”
Township Manager Al Meshkin, who also attended the open house, put in a bid for $350,000. A few days later, Meshkin received a call from the family saying they had received more than 39 bids on the land and that the township’s was not the highest. The family, though, decided to offer the site to the township despite the other options.
“The family is once again contributing” as it did in the early 1990s, Meshkin said at a township workshop on Nov. 2.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of Wolters Woods Park which was the first major land purchase for the township. Until 1992, Laketown had two parks – the beach acquired in 1926 and Farview Park off 138th Avenue that was dedicated in 1982. Neither were on the growing northside.
The property that eventually became the park was originally owned by Lloyd Wolters’ grandfather, Benjamin Wolters, who acquired in 1872. When Lloyd’s father, Edward, passed away in 1986, the property was maintained by five children. Developers were pressing to purchase the acreage and Wolters was unclear which direction to go. After consulting with a friend, Wolters came to the conclusion that people needed a place to walk through the woods and appreciate nature.
In August, Lloyd Wolters reflected on the park.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “Praise the Lord. My dad would be pleased. We’re very happy with the park the way it is.”