Grand Rapids begins master plan update process

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As the city of Grand Rapids approaches 20 years since the adoption of its current master plan, city staff has begun the planning process for a new master plan update and plans to call for community engagement throughout the process.

Grand Rapids’ current master plan was completed in 2002 and covers 20 to 30 years. The plan requires a review every five years, providing opportunities for regular changes.

The first phase of the master plan process gathered information from the community on the successes of the 2002 master plan and where improvements can be made. Twenty master plan facilitators — individual community members and representatives from community organizations — coordinated meetings within their community to review and discuss the 2002 master plan.

The 2002 master plan and the priorities highlighted by the master plan facilitators for the new master plan share common themes such as improvements to neighborhoods, business districts, transportation and culture. However, the priorities for the updated master plan reflect the nuances of today’s needs and the city’s growing and diverse populations.

The updated master plan will highlight new priorities like equity, inclusion and sustainability. It also will address issues that have become higher priorities since the previous plan, such as housing availability and affordability, and reducing the city’s environmental impact.

“While our current master plan provides an effective starting point, we know there are gaps that need to be filled to create the blueprint for our city for the next 20 years or so,” said Layla Aslani, Grand Rapids planning project manager.

The city now is entering the second phase of the master plan process, which calls for public input and participation. City staff will host community meetings to discuss the future of Grand Rapids and how the master plan can better represent and serve its residents. This process will tentatively begin late summer.

“Community involvement is crucial to developing a new master plan that not only meets the goals we have laid out in the city’s strategic plan but also meets the evolving needs and expectations of our community,” Grand Rapids Planning Director Kristin Turkelson said. “We want members from all areas and communities of our city to contribute so that we can better understand the wants and needs of our city as a whole.”

The full master plan presentation is available at the city’s website.

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