A group of individuals, interested in recreation and the communities’ needs, gathered to create a master plan and a new vision for the City of Big Rapids Hemlock Park.
The project is called “Play Big” because it encompasses five different user groups and projects that encourage area residents and visitors to get outdoors and “play big”.
The five projects are: splash pad, basketball courts, pickleball courts, tennis courts and a handicap-accessible kayak launch.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light how many people value the opportunity for free, outdoor recreation opportunities. “As someone who frequents Hemlock Park and someone who studies the industry, I can tell you that usage of parks and general recreation skyrocketed during the pandemic. People are buying tennis racquets, pickleball paddles, and kayaks. We want to give them a safe, comfortable, adaptable place to use them,” Coles said.
Coles adds, “We’re also excited about the economic impact this will have for the area. We want Big Rapids to be a destination point. And for those who already live in the area, we want to drive people to the heart of our city to enjoy ice cream, lunch, and shopping.”
Studies show that if your home is located within walking distance to a successful park, the home value will likely go up $81.54 per square foot. Eighty-five percent of respondents to the 2017 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey seek high-quality park and recreation amenities when they are choosing a place to live. Parks and recreation improve the quality of life in communities and benefits the local economic development of a region. A recent survey in Area Development notes that three-quarters of corporate executives rate quality-of-life features as important factors when choosing a location for a headquarters, factory or other company facility.
The Presenting Sponsor for the Hemlock Park Improvement Project is Spectrum Health. Andrea Leslie, President of Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals said,
“Spectrum Health is excited to be a part of the Hemlock Park refresh project to promote healthy living for years to come. It’s important for community members to spend time outside and stay active and adding a kayak launch and splash pad to our park will provide great opportunities to do just that.”
For more information on how you can contribute to the project, see the Facebook page: Hemlock Park Improvement Project Presented by Spectrum Health or you may call Jon Coles, steering committee chair, 231-250-4082.