Parks Foundation - May Newsletter

Bookmark and Share

May Newsletter

Ottawa County Parks Foundation - May Newsletter

Parks preserve history.


Photo Credit: Mike Lozon

Green Investment – Fur traders, bootleggers and Gerald Ford: Ottawa Parks have history

Ottawa County parks have robins, streams, hemlock trees, trails, and chipmunks. They also have history.

Preserving history is not a primary function of the Ottawa County Parks & Recreation, but many parks have intriguing back stories that make those lands significant. As our community invests in parks, it also is preserving bits of the past that have shaped our communities.

“I think people are interested in the stories of the land. People want to know what happened here,” says John Scholtz, Ottawa County Parks director. “People might come to enjoy a natural place, but there’s always something there that tells a story, and I think people want to know those stories, he said.

Full Story

Honoring John Scholtz


By now, most have heard that long-time Parks Director John Scholtz is retiring in June 2019. He leaves an impressive legacy and some very big shoes to fill.

John has been with Ottawa County Parks since the department was established, over three decades ago. He has provided an exemplary vision which we are well on the way to realizing, for a first-class county park system which serves many sectors of our population and our many visitors. He has fostered a culture of pride and customer service, as well as a reputation for one of the best county parks systems, certainly in the state, and likely nationally as well. He has provided a rich treasure trove of diverse outdoor spaces that anyone in the county can use.

How did John do all this? Vision. Patience. Great long-term planning. Superb interpersonal and communication skills. Creative sources of funding. The ability to juggle multiple complex problems and not drop the ball.

However, if you ask John, a master of humility, he will tell you it was the outstanding support staff, or the ability to get grants, or the wonderful existing natural resource base that was available to us. But we know that it was John behind all of that – his ability to select great support staff, his relationships with State of Michigan parks people and trust-fund decision-makers, his keen awareness of ecology, his perseverance, and his dogged determination to do it right.

Sure, we are not done yet – the grand plan is not complete. But John (who truly deserves to retire!) has left us with a solid schematic for the next ten years. It’s up to us to help get it done.

How can we thank him enough? John, being who he is, declines personal recognition or gifts or laudatory accolades. But you can thank him with a gift in his honor to the Parks Foundation. Please help us continue to realize John’s long-term vision. We’ll make sure he knows about every single gift in his honor. And we will use all of your support to help carry on his legacy.

Making a gift in John's honor is as simple as making a gift securely online at We will be glad to pass along any personal messages of congratulations to John.

We hope you can join us for John's retirement party on Wednesday, June 5 from 4:30-6:30 pm (short program at 5:15 pm) at the Ottawa County Parks Nature Center located in Hemlock Crossing County Park.

North Beach

Best Parks for Lake Michigan Beach Access

Kirk Park, 9791 Lakeshore Dr N, West Olive

North Beach Park, 18775 North Shore Dr, Ferrysburg 

Olive Shores, 8555 Olive Shore Ave, West Olive

Tunnel Park, 66 Lakeshore Dr N, Holland

Motor vehicle parking fees are in effect from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend for these parks. Park passes are available for purchase at North Beach Park, Kirk Park, Tunnel Park, Oaklea Party Store, Hemlock Crossing Park, and the Administrative Office in the Fillmore Complex.

Updated Newsletter

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation will be transitioning our e-newsletter beginning July 2019. To stay connected with the latest news from the Parks Foundation sign up at

Veterans of the Ottawa County Poor Farm

Marjie Pic 3

Thank you to everyone who attended our Veterans of the Ottawa County Poor Farm presentation on May 16. A very special thank you to Marjie Viveen for uncovering their stories and sharing them.

Upcoming Event

We are looking forward to our 3rd Annual Breakfast in the Park on Thursday, June 6 at 7:30 AM. This annual fundraising event helps support our mission of bridging community to nature.

A special thank you to our sponsors, the Crane Family in Memory of Marilyn Crane, Baird Private Wealth Management, Dickson Wright, PLLC, Tim and Jane Stoepker, Scholten Fant, Chow Hound Pet Supplies, David and Barb Van Ginhoven, GEI Consultants of Michigan, P.C., Kennari Consulting, Macatawa Bank, and Prein and Newhof. Sponsorship opportunities are still available!

There is still room if you would like to attend. If you are interested in sponsoring or attending, please contact Angela Miller-Niarhos.

Grand Ravines

Thank you to our supporters!

Donate button