Park Township, near Holland, had a historic airport that operated for 83 years. But when financial troubles forced the facility to close, the Township faced a difficult choice.

The airport was a beloved community landmark, and still a popular gathering place for enthusiasts of drones, radio-controlled airplanes, balloons, and other recreational aviation. But it also represented over 100 acres of flat land near the center of the Township.

Park Township engaged McKenna and our partners at OCBA to lead a multi-step engagement process to determine what to do with the site. The process consisted of four phases, each involving online outreach tools, site tours, Zoom workshops, and remote booths set up at local businesses around the community.

Phase I was a “Community Brainstorm,” in which residents were encouraged to suggest any idea they were enthusiastic about – no matter how “off the wall.” During this phase, it became clear that the overwhelming consensus was to retain the land as public park space.

In Phase II, residents were asked to evaluate the ideas that had been proposed, with many suggestions rising to the top, including pickleball, a splash pad, soccer fields, dedicated space for radio-controlled aircraft, walking trails, and an aviation museum.

Phase III involved the creation of three alternatives, each focusing on a different big idea. Phase IV allowed the public to review the draft plan and suggest revisions.

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