New city park slated for former South Hill/Heritage Hill parking lot

Rapid Growth Media: Deborah Johnson Wood

2.25-acre parking lot at Madison Avenue SE and Pleasant Street SE will
soon be a new Grand Rapids city park. The property is in the heart of
an area identified by Green Grand Rapids
as deficient in green space, and is part of the 415 Franklin property
(former Department of Human Services) acquired from Kent County by the
city of Grand Rapids last year.

A design charrette on
February 20 drew 50 adults and 40 children to voice their ideas about
the park’s design. The purpose of the charrette, sponsored by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, South Hill Neighborhood Association, Heritage Hill Neighborhood Association and the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department, was to present ideas for the park to design consultants O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock & Associates.

“We held some pre-charrette meetings with a small planning team, we have a Facebook group for the park and we tapped into that energy, and we put out a pre-survey
online, all to get ideas so the designers had some ideas for the
meeting,” says Steve Faber, executive director of Friends of Grand
Rapids Parks.

“The property is partly in Heritage
Hill and partly in South Hill and the neighborhoods didn’t want water
playgrounds or basketball courts,” Faber says.

says the neighbors want clear sight lines across the park for
neighborhood safety, so most of the park will be open space. One
section features a playground for kids ages two to 10; other sections
have walking paths, a small slope for sledding and a proposed perennial
exchange garden. Architectural elements at the entrance at Madison and
Pleasant will draw from architectural influences of the surrounding

Four City High students studying
sustainable playgrounds asked the children at the charrette to design
their ideal playground. Faber hopes to incorporate some of the high
school students’ findings in the park design.

steps are to add the park to the Parks and Recreation Master Plan by
March 13 in order to qualify for possible state grants, brownfield tax
credits and other funding.

Source: Steve Faber, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. 

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