Grand Rapids' Park(ing) Day converts metered parking spots into happening spaces

By The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS — Downtown became home to nearly 20 tiny, personalized
parks Friday during the city’s second annual Park(ing) Day celebration.

Chad Morton, a coffee buyer for MadCap Coffee, was giving away coffee samples and entertaining guests by late morning.

“Everybody wants to know what we’re doing,” said Morton as he
relaxed in the bright orange lawn furniture that took up a parking
space along Monroe Center NW.

“I tell them it’s about greenspace,” Morton said. “It’s making people aware of development and how it affects green space.”

Sponsored locally by The Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and presented by Green Grand Rapids,
Park(ing) Day is a one-day global event in which artists, activists and
citizens temporarily convert metered parking spots into little public

Around the corner on Ottawa Avenue NW, bicyclist Josh Duggan said he
felt welcome to be taking up a parking spot on the corner of Ottawa
Avenue and Monroe Center in the middle of the day.

“Generally, if you give people free root beer, people like you,” said Duggan, who operates PedalGR.com, a web site for bicycling enthusiasts and commuters.

Duggan was showing off the BikePetal, an artistic bicycle parking
rack and one of the pedicabs which are becoming popular on downtown’s
night scene.

“We’re a new group and we wanted to get some attention,” Duggan
said. “We want people to know bicycles are around town in force.”

Eric Doyle celebrated by transforming the parking space he purchased
along Ottawa into an imaginary river into which he put his canoe. The
fun began when his wife and son stopped by from daycare to climb into
the canoe, parked outside the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

“I decided this year to focus on the water aspect of our parks,”
said Doyle, a sustainability consultant with the downtown firm of Catalyst Partners.

True to his calling, Doyle used found and recycled materials to
create the setting for his tiny park. “I haven’t spent a dime on this
except for the $10 it cost to buy the space for the day,” he bragged.

Jason Dodge, lead communicator for Spearia,
a Comstock Park web development firm, said they purchased three spots
along Monroe Center to promote their business and the upcoming
“Comstock” music and motocross festival.

To make sure folks stopped, Dodge said they would cook and give away free hot dogs and hamburgers.

“It’s an opportunity to come out and be part of the whole green
initiative,” said Dodge, who installed sod, couches from their office
and a Wii game on the back of a truck.

On Pearl Street NW, Kathy Makarewicz and Nicole Pasch took time away
from their jobs at the city’s wastewater treatment plant to promote
safe waste disposal methods.

Their “park” was complete with sod, yellow park benches, white
chrysanthemums and a white board explaining safe disposal methods.

Not part of the display was a nearby storm sewer grate which
contained an metal coffee cup, a plastic coffee cup lid and an old
Sharpie pen.

“It’s terrible,” Makarewicz acknowledged. “We’ll pick that grate up and pull that out of there before we leave.”

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