A Grand Rapids neighborhood is getting a makeover, and the community has the chance to do the designing.

On the corner of Madison St. SE and Adams St. SE, sits vacant land with a handful of trees. The city and a couple of community organizations plan to transform it into a beautiful park.

“This is an opportunity for us to really design some great accessible green space for a neighborhood,” says Steve Faber, with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. Madison Square Park is the new name.

Faber says green space is few and far between in southeast Grand Rapids, and that’s a problem. “We know that proximity to great green space leads to better health outcomes, leads to higher property values, gives places for kids to play safely,” he explains.

At least two abandoned properties sit adjacent to the land. Faber says they may be demolished. “If we’re going to pick up green space in this town… it’s going to have to be in these environments that people may not have envisioned those spaces as parks before,” he says.

“It’s reclaiming old industrial sites, it’s reclaiming buildings that no longer functions as they initially did for this neighborhood,” Faber says.

Neighborhood residents met at LINC Community Revitalization to give their input. Tom Hoeksema’s kids drew what they’d like to see in the park. Merry go rounds, swings, and splash pads were among the favorites.

A group of architects are taking the community’s ideas and suggestions into account. When all is said and done, the hope is to revitalize the neighborhood.

“For a lot of residents in the neighborhood there’s not a ton of recreation options, so to have a place to come and play where you can get some exercise for free it’s a great opportunity,” Hoeksema says.

Once a final design is chosen, Faber says the next is funding. He says city funds will make up a portion, while others grants will be sought for the project.