Volunteer group leads upgrade efforts of Rosa Parks Circle in advance of 20th anniversary

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The restoration project is scheduled to be completed Sept. 6, which is 20 years to the day after the original dedication of the park. Courtesy ArtPeers/Until Love Is Equal

A volunteer-led group is finalizing plans to begin a $2 million restoration project of the Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle.

Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle Conservancy, led by the Frey Foundation’s Tripp Frey, is in conversations with construction firms to begin the project this spring. The group aims to renovate the Ecliptic, a nearly 20-year-old Maya Lin designed artwork, and other park structures — upgrading each feature with new and more durable materials.

Tripp Frey Courtesy Frey Foundation

The restoration project is scheduled to be completed Sept. 6, which is 20 years to the day after the original dedication of the park.

“Public spaces have been and will continue to be a vital part of our society and the proposed restoration project intends to restore, elevate and preserve Ecliptic for the next century,” Frey said. “In its first 20 years, it has become a beating heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Our goal with this effort is to preserve its integrity and beauty for future generations to experience and enjoy.”

The renovation project is a result of the unexpected two-thirds increase in area foot traffic. The Ecliptic at Rosa Park Circle has been used for festivals, concerts, political demonstrations, prayer gatherings, dancing, art installations and seasonal events.

Some of the events include LaughFest, Festival of the Arts, State Games of America opening ceremony, ArtPrize, Polish Festival, West Michigan Asian Festival, Fifth Third River Bank Run, Babies Blues & BBQ, Get Out the Vote, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, March for Our Lives, Griffins Rally, Merrell Nature’s Gym, ice skating, pumpkin carving and the city of Grand Rapids Christmas tree lighting.

“Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle has hosted numerous important moments in Grand Rapids history since its installation in 2000,” Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. president Tim Kelly said. “Over 700,000 visitors each year use the park for recreation, entertainment, civic gatherings and much-needed breathing space in a growing city. It’s imperative that we all contribute to the well-being of this asset.”

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