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First section of former sand mine to become public park in 2021

The Nugent Sand mining property in Norton Shores is 214-acres including a long stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

The process of turning private sand mine property in Norton Shores into a Muskegon County park is expected to move forward in 2021.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board of Trustees recommended a $5 million grant be awarded to Muskegon County to purchase half of the Nugent Sand property roughly bordered by Sherman Boulevard, Lincoln Street and Seminole Road.

The park to be called Dune Harbor Park could open to the public for hiking as soon as this spring, or 90-days after the county closes the land acquisition.

Only two hurdles remain. "It does have to be approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor," said Bob Lukens, community development director for the Muskegon County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lukens expects that to happen in 2021. Muskegon County will then own what's referred to as the south lake parcel. Lukens says county staff are preparing an application to purchase the north lake parcel of the Nugent Sand land with a second grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

"That grant will be due April first of 2021," said Lukens.

Initial changes to the land will only be a small parking area, signs, trails, and trail markers. The primary draw will be a 2-mile trail around the southern inland lake.

Both the south and north parcels include significant frontage on Lake Michigan. 

"I think it will be a great place for bird watchers," said Lukens.

Future uses and amenities at the park will be the result of a master planning process which is expected to take place after the land is in county ownership. 

"That's where we'll see the input of the local folks, to see what type of amenities they'd like to have at the park," said Lukens.

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