Private funds still needed after Grand Rapids gets $300,000 state grant for ‘Pleasant Park’

Jim Harger – Grand Rapids Press

Map shows plan developed for Pleasant Park by neighborhood residents

GRAND RAPIDS – City officials and friends of the Heritage Hill and South Hills neighborhoods will have until 2014 to raise the $319,000 still needed to transform an abandoned parking lot into “Pleasant Park.”

“We’re working on that as we speak,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jay Steffen Thursday after the city announced it has been approved for a $300,000 grant by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board.

Steffen said the state and federal grant will expire if the local share, about $319,000, is not raised from private fund-raising, philanthropic grants or sponsorships. Part of the money raised will be used to set up a permanent maintenance endowment for the park.

The $300,000 state grant, plus $112,240 in federal grant money, will be used to transform a 2.3-acre site that was last used as a parking lot by Kent County’s Department of Human Services. The city acquired the land in 2009 as part of a land swap with the county.

The new park will include a playground, walking paths and open space for an urban neighborhood that has little green space, city officials said. The park was designed last year in a “charette” in which neighborhood residents participated.

“Having a park within walking distance of every citizen in Grand Rapids is an important goal for the city,” said 3rd Ward Commissioner James White. “The development of this park will assist in achieving this goal in an area of the city which is severely under-served.”

Steve Faber, executive director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, said the park is a “catalyst project that has the potential to return far-reaching benefits for our community.”

The Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommended more than $16 million for 77 projects throughout the state this week. The program derives its funding from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned mineral rights.

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