GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Kent County may contribute $1.4 million over three years to restoring the rapids in downtown Grand Rapids.
The Kent County Board of Commissioners will vote Dec. 20 on whether to transfer dollars from the Lodging Excise Tax Fund reserves to Grand Rapids Whitewater, the nonprofit heading the project.
With wide support from the community, the $44-million rapids restoration project is expected to create an annual economic impact between $15.9 million and $19.1 million, not including recently revealed $40-million plans for riverside trails and parks development in conjunction with the project.
There has been some controversy throughout the planning process, however, with more during initial development.
Though he is supporting the proposal, Kent County Commissioner Tom Antor voiced some lingering reservations.
He has concerns about overall costs and whether they may turn out to be more than expected, particularly with the adjustable hydraulic structure, which will be installed to keep the invasive sea lampreys from entering Lake Michigan.
Richard Bishop, Grand Rapids Whitewater CEO, said an agreement with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission will allow for annual funds to be used toward the structure.
Antor noted the high level of optimism from much of the community but wonders if the project really will live up to the hype.
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