Updated plan announced for Grand Rapids City parks

The Grand Rapids City Commission approved an updated strategic parks plan that includes new additions and improvements.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Parks and Recreation Department of Grand Rapids revealed an update to their “five-year parks strategic master plan.”

The plan was revealed after the City Commission unanimously voted to approve it on Wednesday.

The update included many new improvements to various parks across the city as well as the proposal of a new park to be built on Grand Rapids’ southeast side.

“Our city is filled with amazing parks that not only offer a place to exercise and be active, but they also are a great source of peace, tranquility and beauty to everyone who visits them,” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “I am so thankful that this parks master plan provides a blueprint for continuous improvement of these spaces. Grand Rapids’ quality of life is second to none and this plan ensures that we will continue to benefit and enjoy our great parks for years to come.”

The Parks and Recreation department has budgeted over $15 million to improve, restore and enhance over a dozen parks across the city over the next five years.

The update to the plan came after four parks were used as case studies to demonstrate how unique community and environmental needs can be met in different settings. The four parks that were in the study were Roosevelt Park, Riverside Park, Ball Perkins Park and 32nd Street greenspace.

The improvements that are now proposed after the study for the parks are below:

Roosevelt Park improvements (1340 Godfrey Ave. SW)

  • Renovations to the existing lodge building to improve accessibility, interior and exterior design, and community gathering, indoor sport and event capabilities.

Riverside Park improvements (2001 Monroe Ave. NE)

  • A boating facility with rentals and an event space.
  • A river amphitheater.
  • An off-leash dog area.
  • Nature-based play areas.
  • Renovated restroom and maintenance buildings.
  • Improvements to the boat launches.
  • Stormwater daylighting.
  • Parking improvements.
  • Additional crosswalks for improved pedestrian safety.

Ball Perkins Park improvements (1675 Perkins Ave. NE)

  • A mountain bike single track.
  • Improved access and additional parking on Leonard and Perkins Streets.
  • A new picnic shelter, hilltop overlook.
  • Restoration of the upland prairie and ravine.

32nd Street Greenspace improvements (2149 32nd St. SE)

  • New nature trails
  • Elevated boardwalk over the wetland area
  • New picnic shelter and enclosed pavilion
  • New entry and parking area
  • A nature-play area
  • Wetland and upland prairie restoration
  • Stormwater filtration infrastructure.

Martin Luther King Park improvements (1200 Franklin St. SE)

  • Reconstruction of the lodge.

Sullivan Field improvements (650 Valley Ave. NW)

  • Improvements to the baseball diamond and bleachers.

The full Parks and Recreation five-year parks strategic master plan is available here.

The update builds on the progress from the 2017 plan and took into account hundreds of one-on-one conversations in 30 parks across the city and online surveys.

The newly approved plan also includes development of riverfront parks and trails in coordination with the Grand River Restoration Project.

“We’re excited to continue our important work using momentum from the last five years to create a more equitable, connected, healthy and sustainable park system,” Parks and Recreation Director David Marquardt said. “Through community engagement, strategic partnerships and leveraged outside funding, we are dedicated to meet residents’ expectations for accessible and vibrant parks and recreation facilities.”

The five-year parks strategic master plan will be implemented from 2022 through 2026.

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