What Do You Want For Lake Michigan's West Side County Park

All ideas are welcome at a public brainstorming session from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Ganges Township Hall, 1904 64th Street, Fennville.

"The more input we get, the better the park will be," said Kevin Ricco, Allegan County development director. Hosted by the Allegan County Parks Commission, the session will collect ideas to help in development of  the master plan for West Side County Park, the only county park on Lake Michigan. Acquired by Allegan County in 1927, the 12-acre park is also the oldest of the county's public parks, Ricco said.

"We have 600 feet of sandy beach," he said. Most of the 26 miles of Lake Michigan frontage in the county is privately owned, he said, so public access to Lake Michigan is the park's most valuable asset, he said. 

Although the park is considered a jewel in the county system, it's become a bit outdated, and may not be meeting all of its users' needs, Ricco said. For that reason, it's time to upgrade the master plan, he said.

The design session will be facilitated by M.C. Smith Associates, the landscape architecture and design firm retained by Allegan County to complete the master plan for West Side Park. The goal of the Aug. 20 meeting will be to solicit ideas and suggestions from attendees regarding ways to improve the park so that it better meets the needs of residents and visitors.

"We're not kicking around any ideas (of our own)," Ricco said. "We're going to let the public tell us what they want."

The park currently features two picnic shelters, a playground area, a maintenance building, two restroom buildings, picnic tables and stair access to the beach.

Questions about the design meeting should be directed to the Allegan County Parks and Tourism Office at 269-686-9088 or by e-mail at parks@allegancounty.org.