Grand Rapids closes many park amenities

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Courtesy Facebook.com

Grand Rapids city staff introduced updates in the continued fight against COVID-19.

City Manager Mark Washington and other city of Grand Rapids leaders provided the city commission with an update on municipal and local COVID-19 response efforts and discussed recovery issues during a special online meeting.

The update included an announcement that the city was closing common public touchpoint amenities in its parks effective immediately.

The decision is based on guidance from health professionals and best practices set by recreation professionals across the country. The following amenities are closed until further notice:

  • Playgrounds
  • Basketball courts
  • Bike polo courts
  • Futsal courts
  • Pickleball courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Volleyball courts
  • Disc golf
  • Soccer fields
  • Baseball and softball fields
  • Exercise equipment
  • Skateboarding features
  • Picnic shelters and picnic tables
  • Grills
  • Restrooms
  • Drinking fountains
  • Swimming pools
  • Splash pads

All parks, including dog parks and trails, remain open with warnings posted.

“Our decision to issue these restrictions is based on statistics on what other urban park agencies are pursuing, our own local anecdotal evidence of what is taking place in our parks and, most importantly, the guidance and recommendations coming from federal, state and local health professionals,” said David Marquardt, the city’s parks and recreation director.

The city continues to encourage community members to get outside and stay active. While the use of parks, trails and open spaces is allowed under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, visitors still must follow the 6-feet social distancing requirement.

City leaders also provided an update on other COVID-19 response efforts and operations:

Communications

  • Regular updates to the community and media on operational changes, response efforts, community services and public health announcements in English and Spanish
  • Regular video messages with closed captioning in English and Spanish available here
  • COVID-19 information hub

Police

  • Altered patrol schedule so officers work 84 hours — seven consecutive 12-hour shifts — and then have 14 days off to help stop the spread of COVID-19
  • N95 face masks, eye protection and latex gloves for all officers and social distancing guidelines for interactions with community members, including phone interviews for investigations
  • Health screening that includes a temperature check for all employees, visitors to police headquarters and individuals who are arrested
  • Dedicated officer to provide wellness checks of individuals who are experiencing homelessness as part of the city’s street outreach team

Fire

  • Support homeless shelters and active member of the street outreach team
  • Support inspections of alternate care facilities
  • Assist with the acquisition of PPE for city employees

Community services

  • Coordinate with the Kent County Emergency Operations Center on shelter and isolation services for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness
  • Support the homeless street outreach team
  • Coordinate with Kent County Essential Needs Task Force and other community organizations on food services

Water

  • Suspended cutoff and late fees for nonpayment through April 30
  • Restored water service to occupied properties previously shut off for nonpayment
  • Maintaining operations and services in accordance with regulatory requirements

Mobile GR-Parking Services

  • Suspended DASH service as part of other Rapid changes
  • Suspended metered parking enforcement downtown and in neighborhood business districts until further notice and reprioritized enforcement on safety violations such as “No Parking” and blocking crosswalks with specific attention being paid to medical facilities, Grand Rapids Police Department and areas that are providing food pickup services
  • Created temporary 15-minute parking zones to support drop-off and takeout services at local businesses.

The meeting also included a discussion on economic recovery. Washington said recovery takes at least two forms: business recovery and community reactivation.

“It is incumbent on us to be prepared to work as hard on recovery as we have worked on response,” Washington said. “It is important to think past the current crisis even as we are in the middle of it to create the path forward.”

The activation could take the form of community events, neighborhood celebrations, reopening of business districts or honoring first responders and medical personnel, Washington said. Activation could be large-scale or block by block.

Washington also said he established an economic recovery workgroup within the city’s emergency operations center.

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