Grand Rapids plans for new park projects in 2023


GVL / Meghan Tripp

Chloe Schram, Staff Writer

Grand Rapids City Parks have announced plans to reshape and upgrade roughly 19 different parks throughout the Grand Rapids area in 2023. 

Grand Rapids City Parks include 74 parks, which totals approximately 1,634 acres of land across the city. This includes soccer fields, playgrounds, basketball courts, swimming pools, walking trails and more.

In 2019, Grand Rapids residents voted to renew a millage for the parks, following a 7-year millage that was passed in 2013. The 2019 millage provides approximately $5 million each year for repair, maintenance and new improvements to pools, parks and playgrounds.

On Aug. 13, 2019, the City Commission voted unanimously in support of placing the proposal on the ballot. The Parks Millage proposal provides stable and adequate funding to keep parks and playgrounds maintained by community members.

The city of Grand Rapids’ permanent parks millage provided around $3.5 million in funds for park reconstruction, along with $6.7 million from other organizations in order to complete the parks projects in the works during 2022. 

Steve Kowalski, Clerks Administrative Specialist, reviewed the votes the proposal received in 2019 in order to move the parks projects forward.

“The Grand Rapids city Parks, Pools and Playgrounds millage received 18,164 yes votes and 7,652 no votes,” Kowalski said.

The 19 parks and projects that are currently being updated or will be updated this year include Ah-Nab-Awen Park, Ball Perkins Park, Camelot Park, Canal Park, Grand River Edges Trail, Highland sports courts and parking, Lyon square, Midtown Green, Martin Luther King Lodge, Ottawa Hills parking and bathroom, Plaster Creek Trail improvements, Plaza Roosevelt, Richmond playground and parking, Riverwalk upgrades, Sullivan Field, Veterans Park building renovations, park entry signage, Citywide dog park study and Sports courts. 

Thanks to the parks millage proposal, funding and grants for these capital improvements allow the city of Grand Rapids to make improvements to outdoor spaces for visitors and residents. 

This was an important proposal for many voters including Kowalski.

“I voted yes on the Parks Millage proposal because I believe our parks are an important part of our community,” Kowalski said.

In 2022, about 18 parks and projects were completed, including Belknap Park, Briggs Park butterfly garden, Ecliptic at Rosa Parks Circle, Fourth St Woods, Garfield Park, Heartside Park, Heritage Hill Park, Highland Park boulder wall, Hillcrest Park, Mulick Park playground, Nagold Park, Ottawa Hills fitness court, Paris Park, Plaster Creek Trail – Kroc Center Path, Pekich Park, Riverside Park, Seymour Park and Sweet Street.

Grand Valley State University junior Abby Svec said she thinks the parks projects will have a positive impact on the community and that it’s important to prioritize the projects.

“I believe it is important to continue to upkeep the parks in Grand Rapids because if not, people may stop going to the parks,” Svec said. 

Svec said without updates to Grand Rapids’ parks, these public attractions will not be appreciated and will limit residents’ access to natural spaces in the city. This can also lead to detrimental effects on the environment.

“If people stop spending time in the parks, it could cause them to lose funding and the land may be turned over to more buildings, therefore hurting the environment,” Svec said.

As the Grand Rapids parks projects are in full swing, the people of the city have much to look forward to in regard to the upkeep of local outdoor attractions.