07-26-2018 Park opening getting closer as construction continues; County Commissioners coming to Wat

Park opening getting closer as construction continues; County Commissioners coming to Watervliet to view progress

By Annette Christie

The development of a new county park coming to the northern part of Berrien County is well underway. The contractor has been on the site, located on the east side of M-140 in the City of Watervliet, since spring and has been proceeding according to schedule.  A grand opening of the Paw Paw River County Park is scheduled for the month of August.

HERE COMES THE BRIDGE… The 90-foot center span of the bridge over the Paw Paw River in Watervliet was lowered into place by a giant boom Wednesday morning. Workmen are pictured guiding it into place. The bridge joins the new Paw Paw River County Park to the island in the river. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)

The park development includes approximately 3.5 acres with one mile of Paw Paw River frontage and is directly across the river from Hays Park.  The plans for the park include improvements to the river frontage, mature trees, birding, fishing, a scenic walking trail on the island and other recreational opportunities.  Just this week the pedestrian bridge to the island was being installed.

The park will connect Watervliet directly to the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan on the designated Paw Paw River Water Trail.  This location will be a trailhead for the water trail with an ADA kayak launch that is already installed, hard surface walkways, a parking area, security lighting, trash and recycle bins and bench seating which will enhance recreational opportunities for the region.  Viewing decks will enhance the walking trails on the island.

The estimated cost, $646,321, is being funded through multiple sources which began with Berrien County receiving a grant in the amount of $296,000 from the State of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.  A generous $25,000 donation from the “Friends of Paw Paw River County Park” was given to display the community’s support of the project. Berrien County will be funding the balance of the project through their endowment fund and general fund budgets. This is the first county park in the northern part of the county.

Berrien County Commissioner Jon Hinkelman who represents Watervliet City and a portion of Watervliet Township said, “We are very excited for the area and we look forward to the park being completed.  I believe the park will be tremendously utilized and the Parks Department will look at making enhancements as necessary to build on an already good thing.”

Future enhancements, dependent upon use and funding, could include a restroom facility, bait and tackle concession, a fish cleaning station, a water spray pad, and a playground.

Berrien County Board of Commissioners bringing night meeting to Watervliet

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will be coming to the community of Watervliet for their August 2, 2018 night meeting. The meeting will be held at the Watervliet Fire Station at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is open to the public. The board has seven night meetings scheduled this year with the next two being on September 6 and October 4.

The regular schedule for the Board of Commissioners meetings are weekly on Thursday mornings. Their Committee of the Whole meeting is held at 8:30 a.m. and provides a forum for providing information to the Board as a whole; however, the board does not take any formal action at that meeting. The three committees of the board (Administration, Finance, and Personnel and Human Services) follow the Committee of the Whole meeting. Their regular Board of Commissioners meeting is held at 10:30 a.m. With the exception of the night meetings, the Board meetings are held at the Berrien County Administration Center, 701 Main St., in St. Joseph.

Prior to their meeting on August 2, the Board will be able to see firsthand the progress of the park, as they convene at the construction site for a tour.