GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Construction of a new park honoring the late Fred Meijer's contribution to West Michigan's network of recreational trails is expected to be completed this summer, organizers said.
The nonprofit West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition is contributing $20,000 toward the $35,000 park near Meijer Inc.'s headquarters, The Grand Rapids Press reported (http://bit.ly/Juws4O ). Businessman and philanthropist Fred Meijer, who built the regional retail powerhouse, died in November at age 91.
The area boasts a network of trails named after Meijer.
Kent County Parks Director Roger Sabine, who took the lead on design of the park, said the centerpiece of the diamond-shaped park will be a bronze statue of Fred Meijer on one of three benches situated beneath the shade of several trees. Beds of colorful flowers will surround the park, which will include a paved plaza.
"He always wanted to be part of the project and not necessarily be the focus," Sabine said.
Construction of the park is expected to wrap up by July. A dedication is planned for mid-October.
Fred Meijer donated $3 million that later helped solidify West Michigan Trails and Greenways' status as a nonprofit aimed at assisting with trail development and upkeep.
"My father loved helping to create those trails around West Michigan," said Doug Meijer, company co-chair and Fred's son. "My mother, my brothers and I appreciate the dedication of the park to honor his commitment to the trails."
To help pay for the park, the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition is selling 4-by-8-inch engraved bricks to the public for $100. The group sold two-dozen bricks to Meijer employees ahead of the public offer, and also is offering trails groups and others to buy engraved, $250 brick pavers. The 16-by-16-inch pavers will make part of the plaza's interior, with the smaller bricks outlining the park and adjacent walkway.
"He saw what a trail could do," Sabine said of Fred Meijer, "and all the involvement past that, I think, gave a tremendous amount of encouragement to all the other trail dreams that were out there that he may never even have been a part of."
Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids