The Environment Report: Interview with Jay Steffen about Pleasant Park


This is the Environment Report.

Like most Michigan cites, Grand Rapids’ budget is leaving little room for the extras in life. But Lindsey Smith reports they’re still finding ways to fund the creation of new parks:

Grand Rapids’ director of parks and recreation, Jay Steffen, was excited to address city commission this week.

“When I get up and talk about this park I’m reminded of a song by Joni Mitchell, where she said ‘paved over paradise to put up a parking lot.’ Well we hope to bring paradise back. (laughs)

The city wants to take a 2-and-a-half-acre-parking lot and turn it into, as Jay says, paradise. Pleasant Park would have a rain garden, native shrubs and trees… in a neighborhood that’s one of the most densely populated, with the least amount of green space. That’s why they’re targeting it.

Mayor George Heartwell told city commissioners not to let the $800,000 price tag discourage them.

“We’ve been nothing if not inventive in pulling together resources from the community.”

They’re applying for federal grants usually reserved for low income housing improvements for the park. Nearby neighborhood associations are collecting private donations. The city decides next month if it’ll apply for state grants too.

For the Environment Report, I’m Lindsey Smith.

And that’s the Environment Report for today. I’m Rebecca Williams.

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