Lawmakers Consider Honor for Grocery Titan

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A state park would be renamed after philanthropist and retailer Fred Meijer under a bill unanimously passed Thursday by the state House.

The Meijer family has offered to donate $1 million to White Pine Trail State Park, a 92-mile hiking and biking trail that runs from Cadillac to the northern Grand Rapids suburbs of Comstock Park.

The money has not been accepted because a state board said a provision that would rename the park after Meijer goes against state policy.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm has since said she wants the state to find a way to work with donors so gifts such as Meijer's can be accepted. Granholm has directed the state's Natural Resources Trust Fund Board to resolve the issue at its June 14 meeting.

Republican Rep. Dave Hildenbrand of Lowell, upset that the state board rejected the gift, introduced the bill that could force the issue.

"I was embarrassed by this action and immediately questioned the decision," said Hildenbrand, adding the policy easily could have been changed or amended to allow the Meijer gift.

The bill passed Thursday, which would rename the trail the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park, now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Hildenbrand said the Meijer gift would bring an additional $2.2 million from the federal government for further trail improvements. He said his bill would send a message that such private gifts are welcome in Michigan, particularly at a time when the state is struggling with tight budgets.

The Meijer offer has prompted both Granholm and Republicans to say the state needs a clear, long-term policy to address private gifts to state government projects.

Meijer Inc. is a Walker-based chain of grocery and general merchandise stores.


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