HONOR — The future site of the Platte River Park includes woods, meadows, marshland and even a blueberry farm.
The 52-acre Homestead Township parcel, located just north of the Indian Hill Road bridge that spans the river, also has 1,550 feet of Platte River frontage.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” said Ingemar Johansson, president of the nonprofit Honor Area Restoration Project, which supports revitalization of the Honor area.
The land was purchased by HARP for $330,000 from a private owner, with the bulk of the money coming from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. The group also received a Rotary Charities grant and private donations.
The property came on the market several years ago, Johansson said.
“We started looking into it, thinking ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a public park right there?’” Johansson said.
Judi Sadows, who lives about a half-mile from where the park will be, agrees.
“It’s so exciting,” said Sadows, who retired to the area about 10 years ago. “I love being out in the woods, I love being on the river, I love being out in nature ... I just see all sorts of possibilities for that area.”
She and husband Paul Sadows have 16 grandchildren.
“It’s almost like a bed and breakfast in the summer,” Sadows said. “The park is another place for them to go that is going to be safe and fun.”
The area is forested and undeveloped and the new park will offer the only universal access point to the upper Platte River located upstream from Platte Lake, Johansson said.
“It’s going to open up the river for use by kids and families,” he said.
HARP was given a loan from the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy to purchase the land and take it off the market, Johansson said. It received the trust fund money in December, repaid the loan and gifted the property to Homestead Township.
The nonprofit formed about 10 years ago and has encouraged economic development of Honor by getting rid of blight, said Tim Ervin, who has worked on fundraising for the park project.
The group has about 300 members and has spearheaded several projects, including the demolition of the Question Mark building, which was an eyesore in the community.
Ervin said the pristine Platte River is an iconic fishing stream, with anglers coming from all over the country and the world to fish for salmon and trout.
“This is a great thing for Benzie County, for Honor and for Homestead Township,” Ervin said. “It’s going to be a great destination when complete.”
An agreement is in place between HARP, Homestead Township and the Village of Honor to manage the park and involve residents and visitors in future development phases.
Nearly all of the money that is needed for the next phase of the project has been raised through grants and donations, with groundbreaking planned for this summer, Ervin said.
Public hearings were held for input on Phase 2, which includes a parking lot off Indian Hill Road, a unisex bathroom, an accessible kayak and canoe launch, landscaping, benches and picnic tables.
An input session on Phase 3 is planned for 6-8 p.m. Feb. 20 at The Gathering Place in Honor. The public is invited to hear ideas and share some of their own, Johansson said.
Phase 3 includes a more expansive trail system, added fishing access and an entrance to the park from M-31, he said.
Park development will be managed by the Ann Arbor-based Beckett landscape architect and engineering firm.