BY JIM HAYDEN
A new outdoor learning center is coming to a Laketown Township’s Wolters Woods Park.
The township Building Authority earlier this month approved use of a recently-acquired house there for a nature school run by Holland Christian Schools.
“The Wolters House,” saic HCS advancement director Leanne Halma, “was attractive to Holland Christian Schools as an off-site educational space due to its proximity to our campus as well as Wolters Woods Park.
“The land surrounding the home is beautiful for outdoor learning and the home provides needed facilities and a retreat space for times when teachers and students might choose to gather indoors,” she said.
In November, the township purchased the 2.5 acres of land and house already bordered on three sides by 36.5 acres of Wolters Woods Park for $356,428.50.
The land was owned by Rev. Lloyd Wolters who passed away the month before. He and his family were instrumental in creating the park at 6281 147th Ave. in 1992.
The park includes walking trails through woods and along a creek, plus pavilion and playground. The township recently installed security cameras near the parking lot.
The three-bedroom, three-bath 2,260-square-foot house at 6289 147th Ave. has been vacant since the township bought it.
Laketown unsuccessfully sought an educational use for the house for half a year and decided in July to put it on the market as a single-family rental to raise money to help cover the mortgage.
After deciding to hire a property management company, “another opportunity opened up” said township manager Al Meshkin at the Aug. 17 building authority meeting.
“Holland Christian is grateful for this opportunity to partner with Laketown Township and lease this home as an off-site educational space,” Halma said.
Forest School principal Miska Rynsburger said the Wolters House is important for education.
“As our outdoor educational students grow in their understanding of human-environment relationships, they will use tools to gather data on our natural resources,” said Rynsburger.
“Samples of soil, water and species can now be gathered and researched in a climate-controlled environment. Necessary tools such as microscopes, nets, turbidity kits and more can be stored at this site.
“Our hope is that students will gather and collate data, journal about their findings, develop new understandings regarding sustainability needs of our environment and share their findings while immersed in this beautiful natural setting.”
Rynsburger came up with the name for the new space, The Wolters Woodshop, “which is perfect,” Halma added.
Meshkin is pleased with the arrangement. “This is what we wanted to do with the house,” Meshkin said.
The one-year lease for Holland Christian starts Sept. 1. The school will pay $1,600 rent a month.