Grand Rapids seeks public input on parks master plan


Wilcox Park is located in Grand Rapids' Eastown neighborhood. Photo via

Residents of Grand Rapids are being asked to participate in the planning process for the city’s next parks master plan.

The city’s Parks & Recreation Department is hosting two open houses this weekend to gather public input.

The first open house will take place Friday at Avenue for the Arts’ First Fridays event from 6-9 p.m., at 122 S. Division Ave.

The second open house will be held during the Fulton Street Farmers Market spring opening on Saturday, from 8-11 a.m.

The open houses will include several interactive ways for people to share their ideas.

David Marquardt, director of the Parks & Recreation Department, said the city is embarking on crafting a new master plan to shape a “community-driven mission and vision” that will shape the future of Grand Rapids' park system and the recreational opportunities provided.

Input gathered from the public will be used to develop goals and objectives in the new five-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which is required by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“We want all voices to be heard throughout this important planning effort,” Marquardt said.

To encourage participation, the Parks & Recreation Department will have a variety of giveaways and prize drawings during the open houses, including farmers market gift cards, the chance to be the first kid to hit the slides at Grand Rapids pools this summer, free golf and more.

The new master plan comes on the heels of the city’s parks millage plan, which is being implemented.

Grand Rapids voters approved a dedicated parks millage in November 2013.

The seven-year millage provides funding for repair, rehabilitation and improvements to parks, pools and playgrounds.

Construction will soon be underway on six parks this summer: Camelot, Campau, Dickinson, Douglas, Mark Waters and Mulick.

The city completed improvements to eight parks in 2015: Cherry, Fuller, Garfield, Highland, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Westown and Wilcox.

Those who cannot attend the open houses are invited to participate in a 15-minute online survey, which will include questions similar to the ones being asked during the open houses.

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