The Portland Downtown Development Authority (DDA, the City of Portland, and Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) celebrated a park reveal/ribbon cutting Tuesday with community members showcasing the open features and the updating the progress of the newly-revitalized William Toan Park.
Ground was broken in late-July on the $690,000 improvement project at the riverside park along the Grand River in Portland’s historic downtown area. The reimagined project included relocation of more modern playground equipment already in the park, replacement of outdated equipment, constructing a new splash pad, shaded seating, a river overlook structure, a community fireplace, sidewalk connectors, landscaping improvements and related work.
Officials say the park’s much-needed facelift, especially a water feature, has been in the making since 2014.
“It is a challenging time to construct projects like this that have a lot of pieces and parts, each with longer than usual lead times,” said Jon Moxey, F&V’s engineer and project manager. “In the end, good communication with the entire project team kept things that were within our control on schedule and on budget.
“Seeing the concepts become a reality is very rewarding. It is a great improvement for the community that will draw crowds from well beyond the city limits.”
F&V assisted the City and DDA in planning, design and construction engineering for the extensive renovation project. Katerberg VerHage Inc., a Grand Rapids contractor that specializes in park and recreation projects, did the construction.
The project was funded by the Portland DDA and a local fundraising campaign that exceeded its initial goal of $100,000.
“There are dozens of people who have gone above and beyond for this project,” said Tina Conner Wellman, DDA executive director. “It is truly my honor and privilege to have walked the path and worked alongside of each and everyone.”
Mayor James E. Barnes said the revitalized park will bring more residents and visitors to the downtown to take advantage of the amenities at the park and nearby trails.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the park become a gathering place where residents and visitors of all ages can play or just sit and enjoy the riverfront,” Barnes said. “Everyone is within walking distance of great places to eat, partake in a craft beer, experience a unique wine, enjoy a great cup of coffee, or savor some homemade ice cream. “
Funding included $147,713 in cash donations and pledges, $58,000 in direct labor and material contributions from over 265 private donors, and nearly $500,000 in DDA funds.
“Through hard work, careful planning and the incredible contributions from the public, this vision will soon become a reality,” said City Manager Tutt Gorman. “When completed, Toan Park will become the flagship park for our entire City and a model for other communities to follow.”
“The generosity of Portland individuals and organizations far and wide was both unexpected and encouraging,” Conner Wellman added. “Each and every penny has been put to good use.”
For decades, Toan Park had served city and area residents well. But it needed renovating, officials say. The desire for a water feature came up time and again on community surveys and discussions as a highly sought improvement. The nearest splash pads in the area are about 30 minutes away.
The improvements include a 2,000-square foot splash pad area with 21 programmable water features, 300 feet of riverbank restoration, over 1,400 landscape plantings with an underground irrigation system, 350 feet of river trail resurfacing, a 2,400-square foot safety surface, 4,500-square feet of concrete sidewalk, a four-sided community fireplace and an enhanced pavilion.
Work on the safety surface, fireplace and pavilion is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. New swings will also be installed later.
“Portland did what it is recognized for and most proud of – people and businesses came together to create something exciting, lasting and better for all,” Conner Wellman noted. “While every feature isn’t fully ready and tuned in, we are happily enjoying a moment today and celebrating a beautiful place to gather and pause to take in what it means to be a part of Portland MI.”
“This project is the culmination of a lot of hard work and negotiation, and I couldn’t be prouder that our hard work will benefit the community for years to come,” said Cory Grimminck, DDA board chair. “As a mom and someone who loves our downtown, I can’t wait to have some fun!
“I’m so excited to try out the fireplace feature! Nothing says summer to me like an outdoor fire. Heck, nothing says fall or winter or spring to me like a fire!”