Groundbreaking for the Hemlock Park improvement project in Big Rapids took place on Monday. The Improvement project will include new pickleball courts, basketball courts, tennis courts, a kayak launch on the Muskegon River and a splash pad.
Jon Coles, director of the park project told attendees this project will benefit this community for years to come.
“Over two years ago, in pre-pandemic , a group of citizens came together and saw a need for this community.” Coles said. “The need for free outdoor recreational activities to improve physical and mental wellness The need was magnified during the summer of 2020 and 2021 and we're appreciative of you, our donors for stepping up and meeting the challenge.”
Donations to this project are well over $850,000.
Andrea Leslie, president of Spectrum Health United, Kelsey, Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals echoed the benefits of the park with these new improvements.
“Hemlock Park is a Big Rapids Community gem and the improvements being made will encourage people of all ages to enjoy outdoor recreation and physical activity.” Leslie said. “We know less screen time and more family time or time kayaking and picnicking along the beautiful Muskegon River is good for our physical and our mental health, which is something obviously near and dear to my heart.”
Big Rapids Mayor Fred Guenther is very excited for the city’s future.
“Just looking through the audience, you can see why the project was successful. All the City commissioners are here, they totally believe in the whole project.” Guenther said. “And it's amazing how many city employees are here who put in a ton of hard work. It's wonderful to think about being the mayor of this town. This is one heck of a project for this small town.”
Four of the projects will be finalized this summer while the splash pad won't come until summer of 2023.