Grand Rapids builds first park in 20 years


A rendering of Pleasant Park in southeast Grand Rapids. Courtesy GMB Architecture + Engineering

The second time through the process was a charm, and now a project that has been on the city’s drawing board for four years can go forward.

Grand Rapids city commissioners recently approved a construction contract for the long-awaited Pleasant Park on the city’s southeast side, at the corner of Madison Avenue and Pleasant Street.

The project involves remediating the soil, grading the property, putting up the fencing, installing concrete sidewalks and connecting the parcel to the city’s water and sewer service.

Brick pavers, benches, lighting, playground equipment, bike racks, a drinking fountain and signage will be added to the property. The site will also be irrigated and landscaped.

“What a great project,” said Grand Rapids Commissioner Walt Gutowski.

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Pleasant Park contract

Commissioners awarded the construction contract to Kamminga & Roodvoets, an excavation contractor in Grand Rapids.

The company submitted the lowest bid for the work at $496,491. Its bid was discounted to $471,666, as the contractor will be using a Micro-Loan Business Enterprise and Veteran-Owned firm on the project.

“We got a bit of a cost break from Kamminga,” said Grand Rapids City Engineer Mark De Clercq.

The total construction contract is $560,441, because the city added three more items to the park’s work list, including irrigating the land around the park’s perimeter.

Total spending on construction can’t exceed $666,740, a figure that includes contingencies and $31,500 for the design GMB Architecture + Engineering did for the project.

There was a celebratory atmosphere at City Hall when commissioners awarded the contract, because in early October the board rejected all the bids it received for the park’s construction as being too high. GMB Architecture estimated the work would cost about $586,000, and the lowest bid the city received from its September RFP was nearly $670,000.

“We’re anxious to get underway with the construction project,” said Jay Steffen, Grand Rapids assitant planning director, of the city’s park system. “We remain cautiously optimistic that we’ll build the park as conceived.”


The project will be paid in part through a special property tax assessment. Two hundred owners of 401 parcels in the area will contribute $200,500 to the cost.

A $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, another grant of $122,240 from the Community Development Block Grant program and $4,000 from the city’s Capital Improvement Fund will also be used to pay for the work.

The city’s Fiscal Committee has to approve the allocation from the fund. The $4,000 comes from the city assessing its eight properties near the park at $500 each, the same amount each private property owner was assessed for each parcel.

The Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has worked closely with the city on the project, since it was first conceived in 2009, and the nonprofit grassroots organization is setting up an endowment fund at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation to cover the costs of maintaining Pleasant Park.

“This always hasn’t been the easiest project,” said Steve Faber, executive director of FGRP. “I think everyone will be celebrating once we break ground. This is the first new city park in the last 20 years.”

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