Splash pad, camping sites among proposals for upgrading county park

Published 9:15 am Friday, March 22, 2019

NILES TOWNSHIP — At Madeline Bertrand County Park those looking in to take in the natural scenery can enjoy a host of hiking trails, a picnic among the trees or play disc golf on the 18-hole course. More amenities, however, could be in the works as the parks department garners public feedback about upgrades for a five-year master plan.

During an open house Wednesday night at Love County Park in Berrien Center, Brian Bailey, Berrien County Parks director, encouraged people to share their ideas.

“We are looking to see what do you want to happen with your parks for the years 2020 to 2024,” Bailey said.

Bailey outlined a few prospective changes that the community could see in Madeline Bertrand Park.

Some of the new features could include opening the park up to camping. He said camping sites would be added 12 sites at a time. 

“If it’s popular, and it’s going [well], there could be a phase two and if it is needed, a phase three,” Bailey said.

Other big-ticket items proposed include adding more holes to the disc golf course, building a wedding gazebo, creating a new visitor center or lodge and building a splash pad for children.

Bailey said the park department would seek to find grant funding to support the upgrades if approved.

At the last open house meeting in January, the public had also suggested landscaping around the river shelter, a cement pad for picnic tables outside of the building and a zip line, as well as the dog park area.

“One of the popular comments that we had in January was additional disc golf opportunities,” Bailey said. “It is something that we are looking at for our next plan.”

The 2020 to 2024 master plan also includes getting feedback for Rocky Gap, Silver Beach, Love Creek, the Paw Paw River, Historic Courthouse Square, Galien River County Parks and Red Arrow Linear Trail.

Bailey said he anticipates park officials to create a draft of the five-year plan by August. He hopes to send a final plan to the Department of Natural Resources in January 2020.

Bailey invited the community to share their feedback at the next open house which will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 at Madeline Bertrand Park. A regular commission meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m.

For those who cannot attend upcoming meetings, Bailey asked them to email suggestions to parks@berriencounty.org. People can also send in written feedback to Berrien County Parks, 701 Main St. in St. Joseph.