City provides update on 37 park improvement projects

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The projects mark the final phase of the seven-year parks millage passed by Grand Rapids voters in 2013. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department provided an annual update to the city commission on 37 recently completed, current and upcoming park improvement projects.

The projects mark the final phase of the seven-year parks millage passed by Grand Rapids voters in 2013.

The park system’s second nature-based playscape and first gender-neutral restroom — which will serve as the standard for future park restroom projects — are among the highlights of the past year’s improvements.

David Marquardt, parks and recreation director, told the city commission this year’s $4.4 million millage investment was supplemented by nearly $3 million of leveraged funding from external organizations and grants.

“Guided by the investment policies initiated by this body and the Parks Advisory Committee, we continue to be good stewards of the millage dollars approved by our residents,” Marquardt said. “The extra funding that we have secured from our federal and state partners have really stretched our residents’ tax dollars and allowed us to improve our parks much more than we could have without that support.”

Park projects completed in 2020 include:

  • Belknap Park, 30 Coldbrook St. NE – New electrical service for the park and electrical upgrades to the sports courts and fields.
  • Foster Park, 350 State St. SE – New ornamental fencing, new bench and picnic seating, new chess table and improved landscaping.
  • Lexington Park, 48 Gold Ave. NW – New picnic shelter, seating, swing, hammock grove and tree plantings.
  • Mackay-Jaycees Park, 2531 Kalamazoo Ave. SE – Playground updates, new outdoor exercise equipment, new beach volleyball courts and upgrades to the athletic fields and concession/restroom building.
  • 555 Monroe Ave. NW – A new skate/bike/scoot facility completed in partnership with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.
  • Plaster Creek Family Park, 2401 Buchanan Ave. SW – New nature playscape, outdoor classroom, accessible walkways and green infrastructure completed in partnership with The Wege Foundation, the city’s environmental services department and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Parks currently slated for or under construction for improvements include:

  • Aman Park, O-1859 Lake Michigan Drive NW – Currently under construction. The project will include improved erosion control, new pedestrian bridge, entrance drive improvements and signage upgrades.
  • Bike Park Phase II, 580 Kirtland St. SW – Project bidding is expected to begin this winter. Improvements will include a new picnic shelter and building removal.
  • Burton Woods, 2259 Everest Ave. SE – Construction is expected to begin spring 2021 and will include improved entryways, new benches and litter receptacles, fence removal along the north and northeast portion of the property and a small natural play area.
  • Camelot Park, 2230 Rowland Ave. SE – Construction is expected to begin spring 2021. Improvements will include a new splash pad partially funded by a $150,000 community development block grant.
  • Caulfield Park, 1119 Caulfield Ave. SW – Currently under construction. Improvements will include new lighting, drinking fountain, swing set and a custom bench designed by students at Cook Arts Center.
  • Roberto Clemente Park, 546 Rumsey St. SW – Currently under construction. Improvements will include a new gender-neutral restroom building, new picnic shelter, outdoor discovery play area, pathways with pedestrian lighting and green infrastructure improvements. The project is partially funded by a $242,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund and $300,000 from the city’s environmental services department.
  • Covell Dog Park, 526 Covell Ave. NW – Construction is expected to begin spring 2021. Improvements will include separate areas for small and large dogs, a new shade structure, new drinking fountain and new play components.
  • Eastern Park, 820 Eastern Ave. NE – Currently under construction. Improvements will include new pathways, new swing set, new basketball court, new benches and a new grill.
  • Ken-O-Sha Park, 1353 Van Auken St. SE – Currently under construction. The project will include a new nature-based playscape, new outdoor classroom and green infrastructure, pathway and trailhead upgrades. Improvements are partially funded by a $150,000 Great Urban Parks Campaign grant by the National Recreation and Park Association.
  • Kensington Park, 902 Curve St. SW – Currently under construction. Improvements will include an upgraded picnic area with tables and grills, improved athletic field drainage, improved playground and a new entrance pathway.
  • Pleasant Park, 400 Pleasant St. SE – Currently under construction. Improvements will include a new swing set and shade sails for the playground, new water spigot, entryway improvements and rain garden renovations.
  • Rosa Parks Circle, 135 Monroe Center NW – Construction is expected to start in spring 2021 and will include upgraded and new seating, steps, granite, lighting, stage space, restrooms and landscaping. Fundraising to support these improvements is currently underway with support from the Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle Conservancy.
  • Richmond Park, 1101 Richmond St. NW – Currently under construction. Improvements will include new accessible path around the pond, stairs for the sledding hill, new trailhead signage and pool house entrance upgrades. Fundraising for future playground improvements is underway with support from the Mitten Foundation.
  • Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Ave. NE – Construction expected to start spring 2021. Improvements will include a new picnic shelter and restroom, new accessible kayak launch, upgrades to tables, grills and benches throughout the park and native plantings at the lagoon edge. Funding for the kayak launch is supported by a $150,000 Michigan Department of Natural Resources recreation passport grant.
  • Sigsbee Park, 431 Benjamin Ave. SE  – Construction is expected to start spring 2021. Improvements — in coordination with Grand Rapids Public Schools — will include a new nature-based play structure, new landscape beds with trees and bikeable landscape and repainted plaza embankment.

Park projects slated for community design input through this winter are:

  • Canal Park, 941 Monroe Ave. NW
  • Fish Ladder Park, 560 Front Ave. NW
  • Fourth Street Woods, 1341 4th St. NW
  • Garfield Park splash pad project, 2111 Madison Ave. SE
  • Heartside Park, 301 Ionia Ave. SW
  • Heritage Hill Park, 501 Paris Ave. SE
  • Hillcrest Dog Park, 1415 Lyon St. NE
  • Midtown Green, 747 Fountain St. NE
  • Martin Luther King Park lodge improvements, 900 Fuller Ave. SE
  • Nagold Park, 945 Nagold St. NW
  • Paris Park, 942 N. Ottillia St. SE
  • Pekich Park, 9 Cherry St. SW
  • Seymour Park, 942 Ottillia St. SE
  • Sixth Street Park, 647 Monroe Ave. NW
  • Sweet Street Park, 475 Sweet St. NE
  • Veterans Memorial Park building improvements, 101 E. Fulton St.

Remaining park projects to be funded from the 2013 parks millage include Ah-Nab-Awen Park, 220 Front Ave. NW, which is pending amid Grand River restoration projects, and Sullivan Field, 650 Valley Ave. NW, which will continue community design input in 2021.

On completion of these projects, the millage will have funded a total of 83 park improvement projects across Grand Rapids with each of the city’s 75 parks receiving upgrades. The total millage investment since 2014 is $22,810,522 with $17,048,605 in additional leveraged funding.

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