Community News |Dec 16, 2021|3 min read

Muskegon, MI – Today, Muskegon County, Nugent Sand Company, and Cherette Group announce the County’s successful purchase of the first phase of the new Dune Harbor Park, which is expected to open to the public on or about March 21, 2022.


A year ago, in December 2020, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNTRF) recommended funding for Phase I of the project, known as the South Lake: a wooded 214-acre parcel with 202 feet of Lake Michigan frontage, an inland lake, and a 2.2-mile hiking trail. With the completed transaction this week and per MNRTF grant requirements, the County has 90 days to open the park to the public.


The project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a public park that provides public access to inland lakes and a significant amount of Lake Michigan shoreline. The success of this project is attributed to the hard work and partnership between the County of Muskegon, the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, and Nugent Sand owner Robert Chandonnet, who provided a generous $3.3 million match to the MNRTF grant allowing the project to move forward. Chandonnet has requested the property be named “Dune Harbor Park” in memory of his late wife, Lynne.


Denny Cherette of Cherette Group, who has represented Nugent Sand’s real estate interests in this matter, reflected on the multi-year process. “This is a meaningful legacy gift for Bob and his family. For over 40 years, Bob, through Nugent Sand, has been the steward of this truly unique land. Having been good friends and associates for many years, I’ve witnessed Bob’s substantial history of philanthropy.  This is the most visible and significant gift that Bob and his family have contributed. They are delighted to be able to give this multigenerational gift to Muskegon County residents and visitors as an enduring legacy.”

“This project has been one of the County’s most exciting land acquisitions, and we want to thank all of those involved in making it a reality for the residents of Muskegon County and West Michigan,” said Muskegon County Administrator Mark Eisenbarth. “The South Lake portion of Dune Harbor Park will officially open in March, and the Muskegon County Parks Department has begun work on an opening plan for the South Lake that will be shared in a public meeting in February.”


He said that while the County will take ownership of the property on December 16 and open the park in March 2022, the land North of Winnetaska Road is still the private property of Nugent Sand and is off-limits to visitors.


Muskegon County’s application for a $5 million MNRTF Grant for Phase II/North Lake acquisition has been recommended for funding by the Trust Fund Board at their December 1, 2021 meeting.


Eisenbarth indicated the master planning process to engage the public in an overall vision for the entire park will begin after the Phase II land transaction is complete in late 2022.


“This is a rare opportunity to provide local residents, West Michigan residents and visitors with a fantastic recreational area to enjoy, while at the same time preserving this land for future generations,” Muskegon County Board of Commissioners Chair Robert Scolnik said.


The Land Conservancy of West Michigan is raising funds to open the park and to provide match funding for future grants. Thanks to the generous support of the community, the initial fundraising campaign is set to bring in approximately $500,000 for the park and is nearing completion.