Ada acquires new park land

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An artist's rendering of a new park currently in the planning process in Ada.

An expansion of public park land in Ada Township is on the horizon, as the township’s Board of Trustees took action Monday to acquire land on the western shore of the Thornapple River. The one-acre parcel for park expansion sits on the 500 block of River Street SE, directly across the river from Leonard Park, and is connected by the community’s historic Ada Covered Bridge.

At its board meeting on June 12, township officials approved a purchase agreement to acquire the new park land and accepted a financial donation from township residents to fund the property purchase.

The township will next develop plans of what the expanded park area could become, leveraging information from recently completed master planning documents, and will finalize a proposed budget that will determine the additional funds needed to complete the project. This action is the latest step in an effort to revitalize Ada Village into a community that matches residents’ visions.

“Nearly 20 years ago, our community came together to dream what Ada Village could become,” said Ross Leisman, Ada Township supervisor. “An overwhelming number of people said access and enjoyment of the riverfront for all to use was a top priority. Now, we have a beautiful village overlooking the Thornapple River, Legacy Park along the waterfront and, with today’s news, we will soon have an impressive expansion and renovation of public park space to the south and east.”

In 2006, the Ada community produced a resident-guided vision for the future of Ada Village. In 2013, township officials, business owners, residents and visitors joined together in a series of more than 100 meetings and community forums to further clarify that vision. One of the key requests was to expand outdoor recreation opportunities and enhance existing parks and green spaces, connecting them with a regional network of trails and open spaces.

In 2019, Legacy Park was built in the heart of Ada Village providing beautiful views of the Thornapple River along with a playground, walking paths and a performance stage. This summer, Leonard Park will undergo construction for upgrades and improvements along the river side, providing more amenities to the community. This work is funded in part by a $333,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. After completion of the 2023 work at Leonard Park, the planned next step is to create further green space on both sides of the Ada Covered Bridge. This will be a mixed-use community green space and recreation area.

“This land acquisition and development will help us to accomplish our resident-guided vision of creating even more natural areas,” said Leisman. “This new park space will be a great place for the public to gather, be active, and enjoy everything that Ada has to offer.”

Ada residents Cheri DeVos Ehmann and Steve Ehmann gifted the township the funds to purchase the land on River Street SE for the project.

“Ada’s wooden covered bridge is beloved in the local community,” said Cheri DeVos Ehmann and Steve Ehmann. “Our hope is that adding this new park land along River Street will increase the community’s access to the bridge, allow for neighbors to come together in a new way, and enhance views of the landmark from across the village as residents and visitors go about their activities.”

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