Adopted in June 2017, Grand Rapids’ Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan creates a vision for the long-term development, programming, and sustainability of Grand Rapids’ parks, public open spaces, and recreation facilities. Grand Rapids’ parks and recreation system benefits from the opportunity of the Grand River which flows through the center of the city and is surrounded by a diverse system of neighborhoods, vibrant community and distinct ecology. With this framework, the master plan seems to amplify and expand these assets. The plan, led by Brie Hensold and Gina Ford while principals at Sasaki, considers community needs, recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities, economic development, environmental sustainability, priority projects and funding. Community engagement was at the heart of the effort, with over 5,300 people contributing to the plan.
Grand Rapids’ riverfront parks are envisioned as recognizable icons and economic drivers for the Department and the City. New trails, water recreation, a waterside community center and events-based revenue opportunities expand the impact of the river to the community. Beyond the core, the river, its tributaries and related open spaces are designed as part of an integrated approach to ecological enhancement and watershed management. Investment in trails meets growing demand for biking and running trails across the city and helps bridge the gap to high-need areas of the city. Additional identified investments in neighborhood parks provide strategies to meet community needs, including more accessible park space, new amenities and programs and integration of more contemporary recreation and design trends. By building partnerships, shifting maintenance regimes to reduce the burden, and introducing programs to generate revenue, the plan creates ways for the Grand Rapids Park System to be both thriving and self-sustaining. Key operational changes can improve the sustainability of the Department, while maintenance regimes can shift toward less intensive practices to reduce costs and allow the ecology of the parks to diversify. The plan lays out strategies to bring walkable parks to every neighborhood, new recreation programs, improve existing amenities, and make the system financially and environmentally sustainable.Project Images