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Development of Grand Rapids’ proposed new urban park moves forward after $300K DEQ grant

Rapid Growth Media

A $300,000 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grant will be in hand once the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department secures another $320,000 in funding, and parks director Jay Steffen is confident it’s going to happen. The funding is to finance a brand new urban park on the city’s southeast side at 620 Pleasant St. SE, on the corner of Pleasant and Madison.

Pleasant Park is now a forlorn surface parking lot, once used for the Kent County Department of Human Services, which relocated to 121 Franklin St. SE in December 2009. The 2.3-acre parcel will become the only park within walking distance of the surrounding South Hill neighborhood and will include a universally accessible playground with a rubberized tile surface, paved walking paths, a small sledding hill, native plantings, new trees and a rain garden.

“We’ve designed the park through neighborhood consensus,” Steffen says. “We held a design charrette and about 100 people participated. This is truly an area that is underserved, with less than one acre of parkland per one thousand people. It’s also an area of the city very densely populated, with between six and 20 people per acre.”

Steffen cites the city’s goal to have a park within walking distance of every city resident, and says Pleasant Park will help the city move closer to realizing that goal.

“The National Recreation and Park Association recommends 12 to 15 acres [of parkland] per thousand people,” Steffen says. “I think it’s significant that the city has about 7.88 acres per thousand population. The city is 97 percent built out, so the ability to add park acreage is difficult and being able to add another two acres is quite significant.”

The park must be completed sometime in 2014 to receive the grant funding, and must have the matching $320,000 in place, says Steffen. The City of Grand Rapids has offered an additional $112,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding. The total cost of the development and construction is estimated at $731,000, Steffen says.

Source: Jay Steffen, City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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