Flat River Nature Park plans continue to unfold

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 12:20 pm on Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From left to right, Montcalm County commissioners Lloyd Walker, Betty Kellenberger and John Johansen study a map of the Flat River Nature Park in Montcalm Township. Commissioners are discussing ways they can expand in the park in the future. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — Montcalm County commissioners continue to discuss expanding the 69-acre Flat River Nature Park in Montcalm Township.

The Economic Development and Physical Resources Committee discussed the issue again Monday, led by Commissioner John Johansen of Montcalm Township.

Johansen said he’s met with Jason and Tricia Gladding, who own land adjacent to the park on Johnson Road. Johansen said the Gladdings told him to put a proposal from the county in writing and they would respond.

Committee members approved sending a letter to the Gladdings proposing the following options: (1) Expand the parking lot to the north by 66 feet wide and 132 feet deep, which may cut into the Gladding’s fenced-in area they own to the north or expand to the north by 33 feet wide and 132 feet deep; (2) Expand the county’s full right-of-way to the north (the Gladdings’ south property line) by 66 feet or 33 feet; or (3) another option of the Gladdings’ choice.

The county created the Flat River Nature Park in 2007, but development options are limited due to the narrow entrance. The park has 4,200 feet of frontage on the Flat River and two walking trails, which are also open for horseback riding.

In January 2011, commissioners voted 6-2 to have 17.8 acres of land appraised along Johnson Road near Sidney Road contiguous to the Flat River Nature Park for possible future purchase for the park.

However, Allen Lehman of Greenville purchased the land in March 2011 from Charles and Pamela Clark at a cost of $50,500 on behalf of the Gladdings.

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