Bike paths in Laketown Township were the most visited park site in the last six months in Laketown Township, according to respondents to a Parks and Recreation Commission survey. Removal of invasive species was the issue of top importance.
Survey results were released at the Sept. 20 parks meeting.
“I’m quite happy with the outcome of the most recent survey. It will help guide us in the finalization of our five-year plan,” said Parks Commission Chairperson Jeremy Van Hoven. “It was a great learning experience and I’m glad that we were able to use it as a tool to accurately gauge the pulse on what our residents really want for their parks.”
He thanked Commissioner Anne Brand who put together the survey and compiled the results.
“I also want to thank the many residents who took the time to fill out the survey and also add very helpful and suggestive comments,” he said.
The survey is part of the parks commission update to the 2018 master plan which helps guide the commission in planning and projects. It also assists in securing state grants.
The 10-question survey was included in the most recent township newsletter mailed to about 3,000 addresses over the summer. It was also available online.
A total of 205 surveys were returned. Of that number, 114 were paper surveys and 91 were electronic. The surveys were anonymous and allowed for comment.
The last time the parks commission did a survey was 2016, it received 84 responses.
In this year’s survey, 50 percent of respondents identified as having a retiree in the household.
The bike paths were the most visited park in the last six months, according to the results, with 62.7 percent of respondents having used them.
The township has about 10 miles of shared-use paths linking the Saugatuck and Holland paths. Another path is planned along Blue Star Highway with a completion date in 2024.
The second most visited site was Sanctuary Woods Park, 4750 66th St. with 52.3 percent of respondents visiting the park in the last 6 months. Sanctuary Woods is a 40-acre dune forest with trails and views of Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan.
Third most visited is Wolters Woods Park, 6281 147th Ave. with 51.3 percent of respondents visiting the park in the last 6 months to use the trails, playground and pavilion on the almost 40 acres.
Sanctuary Woods and Wolters Woods are in the more densely populated north section of the township.
Laketown Beach, 6710 142nd Ave., was the fourth most visited with 49.7 percent of respondents visiting the park in the last 6 months. The park has 200 feet of Lake Michigan frontage with steps and paths over the dunes.
Other parks visited over the last six months: Huyser Farm Park (40.9 percent), 4188 64th St., with trails and blueberries; Township Hall Park (36.3 percent), 4338 Beeline Road, with baseball field and pickleball courts; Shore Acres Park (34.7 percent), 6602 138th Ave., with disc golf course; and Farview Park (19.2 percent), 6597 138th Ave., with two ponds, trails and equestrian paths.
Respondents (72 percent) listed removal of invasive species as the most important issue in the parks.
The township contracts with the Outdoor Discovery Center, 4214 56th St., for the management of invasives including Asian bittersweet, autumn olive, Japanese knotweed, teasel, purple loosestrife, poison hemlock and phragmites.
Alpha Nurseries, 3737 65th St., donated time and resources to remove autumn olive from Farview Park this summer.
Respondents (71 percent) said Laketown Beach is important and 55 percent said upgrades to paths and bridges were important.
The compiled results also included comments from the Meet & Greet summer series where parks commissioners held open houses for public input.
Residents commented on the Huyser House, blueberry field, beach access and safety, cell towers in parks, invasives, restrooms and shared-use paths.