October Park It! e-newsletter: Is Grand Rapids keeping pace?

Park It! October, 2010 – view it in a browser

  October 2010



NeighborWoods: Nuts and Berries Bike Tour – 10/9

NeighborWoods: Garfield Tree ID Project- 10/16

Neighborwoods: Riverside Tree Tour- 10/23

NeighborWoods: Movie and Music- 10/20

NeighborWoods: Tree Planting 10/29 & 10/30

NeighborWoods: Trees, Treats & Tombstones 10/30


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word from the director


We are off the pace to create a vibrant park system in the City of Grand Rapids.

Each September the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Parks Excellence releases
City Facts, the nation’s most complete database for park facts for the
largest 85 U.S. cities.   While Grand Rapids is too small to show up on
their report, we’ve crunched the numbers to see how Grand Rapids stacks

There is a total estimate of 1,806 acres of
“parkland” in the City of Grand Rapids’ city limits: 1,209 acres of
city-owned parkland, 378 acres of land owned by GRPS, and 140 acres at
John Ball Park/Zoo operated by Kent County.  For this year, the annual
budget for the City of Grand Rapids’ Parks and Recreation operations
was $6,607,332 with 23 full time equivalent staff.   In the table below
we’ve listed the Grand Rapids’ number, which city in the nation is
performing the best & worst, some Midwest comparisons, and then
those cities that are closest to our numbers.

Grand Rapids

Top Performer

Low Performer

Midwest Comparisons

The pack we run with

Acres of Parkland as Percentage of City area* (low density city)


Anchorage: 39.9%

Honolulu: 1.6%

Milwaukee: 9.7%

Minneapolis 16.7%

Indianapolis: 4.8%

Tulsa: 6.3 %

Fort Worth: 5.9%

Louisville: 6.5%

Acres of Parkland per 1,000 Residents*

9.3 acres

Anchorage: 1,796.7

Honolulu: 6.9

Milwaukee: 15.8

Minneapolis: 15.3

Indianapolis: 13.9

Durham: 10.5

Birmingham: 10.5

Corpus Christi: 7.3

Total spending on parks per resident of the city (not including capital expenditures)**


Washington DC:




Milwaukee: $45


Indianapolis: $38

El Paso: $31

Memphis: $34

Jacksonville: $35

Regular non-seasonal employees per 10,000 people**


Seattle: 17.1

Toledo: 0.1

Milwaukee: 2.5

Minneapolis: 15.2

Indianapolis: 3.8

Mass. Dept. of Conservation & Rec. 1.2

Newark: 1.1

Fairmont Park Commission: 1.0


quick snapshot shows that our local public funding is not keeping pace
with other cities and regions. For all the indicators in the City Facts
2010 report, we hover near the bottom of the table when it comes to
public investment.   Not only that, we are moving in the wrong
direction (we were closer to a $37 public investment per resident in
2009). And we are ready to lose even more ground with 5 GRPS schools
and land up for sale, more projected budget shortfalls at the City, and
talk of even more funding cuts to parks. Please urge City
leadership, and your commissioner, to reject more cuts to the Parks
budget. Now is the time to rebuild our parks through public and private

Great parks make great neighborhoods,

Steve Faber


*includes GRPS and Kent County land within city limits

** does not include GRPS and Kent County funding and any capital improvement funds

mark your calendar


Featured Event:


October is NeighborWoods Month. Visit our event calendar to see all the events we are planning. We are also still looking for volunteers for October 16th’s Garfield Tree ID Project and the Tree Planting at the end of October on the 29th and 30th.
Please forward this newsletter to your friends to let them know about
these great opportunities to learn about trees and get involved
improving our tree canopy.






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