Friends in the news

Joe Taylor Park Expansion – Fox 17


Neighbors, community members, children, and Grand Rapids Police Officers gathered in the Baxter Neighborhood to celebrate the completion of Joe Taylor Park, a nearly decade-long project.

“I think it is wonderful, I think i’ts beautiful, who would have thought they would have ended up naming a park after my brother,” said June Taylor.

 Her older brother, Grand Rapids Police Officer Joe Taylor, was killed in 1987 not far from the park location. The 29-year-old officer was on duty responding to a homicide suspect when he was shot.

“As officer Taylor went into the house to search, he was ambushed by the door,” said Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk.

The park is not only named after him but represents something he loved: children.

“He would have been ecstatic, he loved kids and the community,” said June Taylor.

The park expansion nearly doubled its size.

It includes an underground storm water treatment facility, LED lights for park lighting, low maintenance plant material, integration of existing playground equipment, and a water playground that reuses water to irrigate trees, grass and shrubs in the park.

Children from the neighborhood enjoy the new water splash pad.

“Because it’s fun over here,” said 6-year old DeAndre Anderson who wrote the ‘fun’ on a ribbon and tied it on the park fence as part of the rededication.

Pamela Johnson enjoys watching her 3-year old grandson play in the water and hopes the park will help move the Baxter Neighborhood away from crime.

“It’s most likely going to help the kids stay away from going out and doing things that can get them into trouble,” said Johnson.

The park reconstruction and expansion was done thanks to public and private support and years of input from the community and the neighborhood.

Funding comes from a Capital Improvement Fund Bond, a Community Development Block Grant and a gift from Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation through Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, who also established an endowment to help ensure the park can be maintained and improved over time.

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