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Two Garfield Park pools will be removed for playground by city workers, volunteers

GRAND RAPIDS — City workers this summer will remove and cover over
the Garfield Park swimming pool, which has been closed since 2002.

The 57-year-old pool is beyond repair and the city cannot afford to
replace it, Parks and Recreation Director Jay Steffen told city
commissioners Tuesday.

On Aug. 7, volunteers from the Garfield Park Neighborhood
Association, the United Methodist Metropolitan Ministries and KaBoom, a
nonprofit group that promotes park development, will install new
playground equipment on the site.

Rather than pay a contractor up to $500,000 to remove the pool and a
smaller children’s pool, city workers will do the job, thanks to City
Manager Greg Sundstrom’s strategy to transform city government.

The Parks and Recreation Department recently merged into the Public
Services Department, which also includes the Street Maintenance
Department.

The merger gives the Parks and Recreation Department staff access to
equipment and personnel to remove the pools and decks, Sundstrom said.

“When you put them together, they come up with crazy ideas that just
might work,” he said.

The project calls for city workers to remove the two pools and fill
the area with sand and topsoil. A wading pool and a gym next to the
pools will remain.

Christopher Reader, a resident of the Garfield Park Neighborhood and
chairman of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, said he has
mixed feelings about the plan to remove the pool.

“It’s really been neglected and there’s really no way we can justify
spending a million or even half a million to replace it,” said Reader,
noting the entire Parks and Recreation Department has just $100,000 for
repairs in its current budget.

G0714 GARFIELD PARK POOL closed.jpgWeeds and bushes grow in the two
large pools at Garfield Park that have been closed since 2002.

The swimming pool is one of seven outdoor pools owned by the city. It
was closed in 2002 after inspectors concluded it had leaks which would
not pass state inspections, Steffen said.

Thanks to a private fundraising drive by Friends of Grand Rapids
Parks, three of the outdoor pools are open for a seven-week swimming
season this summer.

Steffen noted the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center will open a public
swimming pool half a mile away from Garfield Park in October.

Besides the new playground, the south half of Garfield Park also is
being considered for a tree nursery that can be used to replace trees in
city parks.

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