GR Parks An Asset, In Serious Need Of Assistance

Report has 13 financial management tips and more than 30 operational and policy suggestions. City Commissioner says Parks and Rec system needs greater support and focus.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Grand Rapids’ Parks and Recreation system needs new ways to fund and greater emphasis on its system, according to a consultant’s report. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has reviewed the work of Pros Consulting, an authority on such systems nationally. Their work was commissioned by the Parks and Recreation Transformation Design Team.

Steve Faber of Friends of the Grand Rapids Parks is on the team. He says “we’ve all seen what 10 years of disinvestment looks like, but we have lacked information on how that compares with peer cities.” Faber says a local aversion to establishing a fee structure for the parks needs to change. He says the groups concerned with restoring and repositioning the parks will pick “the two, three four things that we think are most within our reach here in the city, and then put plans together to go after that.” 

City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss is also on the Transformation Design Team. She says supporting the Parks and Recreation Program is an economic development and quality of life issue. “If you look at a lot of the best cities throughout the country, they have rich, robust vibrant park systems and green space,” Bliss observes. She says the Commission and other involved groups have spent years worrying about what program to cut. With this report, Bliss says “there’s a whole host of ideas we can look at” to fund improvements. 

The report says the city has not made a capital investment in the Parks and Recreation in five years, and requires a $30 million investment to repair and update the existing system.

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