Crandell Park officially became Eaton County’s 10th public park Tuesday, May 30 as county officials cut the ribbon at the park’s Grand Opening event.

“Some people did not think this was going to happen,” said Eaton County Parks Commission chair Bob McConnell said. “This is a wonderful day, and it’s the culmination of the work of three very diligent park directors. Anything like this that happens is the culmination of the work of a whole lot of people, and this is no different.”

The 432-acre park was purchased by Eaton County through a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant, which accounted for 75 percent of the $3.9 million purchase. The remaining 25 percent of the purchase was donated by the Crandell family, which previously owned the property. The jewel of the new park is the 160-acre lake that resides at its center.

“I want to thank the Crandell family,” said Eaton County Commissioner Brian Lautzenheiser prior to the official ribbon cutting. “Me and my family have been the beneficiary of their generosity many times in private situations, you all as families in this community now get to experience their generosity here at this wonderful piece of land.”

The park, located at the corner of M-50 and Stewart Road in Eaton Township, is currently open from 8 a.m. to dusk for what Eaton County Parks Director Clay Summers called passive recreational use — walking/hiking, carry in kayaking and canoeing, or mountain biking. There is no fishing allowed currently, as the county is waiting to have a fish study completed by the DNR Fisheries Department in an effort to get a baseline understanding of the lake’s fish population. The fish study should be complete in the next few weeks, Summers said.

The future of the park will be guided by community input, Summers said. County officials have conducted four community input meetings at various locations in Eaton County and have two more planned in June. The information and suggestions garnered from those meetings will serve as the basis for recommendations made by a Crandell Park visioning committee.

“The next phase will be the result of the work of many people, and we call upon all of you to be a part of that,” McConnell said.

There is no established timeline for development of the park. Summers said any development in the near future would require public/private partnerships and grant dollars.