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Word from the Board

'Yes' for Grand Rapids Parks Proposal a Win For All

Guest Editorial by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Board of Directors
Appeared in Grand Rapids Press, Oct 27, 2013

current condition photosNovember 5th there is an important vote in Grand Rapids.  On that day, the citizens of Grand Rapids can choose to dedicate funds to be set aside, only to be spent on neighborhood parks, pools, and playgrounds. Those dollars are needed as our park system is in need of significant reinvestment.  Right now 91% of current City parks are rated a "C" for maintenance (on a scale of A-D) and it is projected that 50% of parks will fall to a "D" without additional resources to repair and make improvements.  

As the board of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, we have witnessed the thousands of residents from across the city who have volunteered to help our parks; painting buildings, planting trees, weeding playgrounds, repairing broken benches, picking up trash, and spreading playground surfacing over the past few years.  The corporate and philanthropic community has also contributed immensely to keep the city’s public pools open and stepped forward with funding to match their concerns about city green spaces. People care about parks, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.

There is a generation of kids growing up in our city today that only know broken playground equipment, weedy baseball fields, missing tennis nets, uneven turf fields, cracked basketball courts, and closed pools. They won’t have the same stories when they get older about playing baseball at Lincoln, ice skating at Richmond, cooling off at the wading pool at Wilcox, or playing pick-up games of basketball at MLK. 

Citizens have helped create a vision for the future of parks in our city including, the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Parks in 2007, Green Grand Rapids in 2009, the Parks and Recreation Master Plan in 2010, and numerous neighborhood planning efforts. The community has rallied in the past several years to volunteer in parks, give money to save the pools, and donate to purchase new equipment.  Citizen engagement is a key element of creating great parks, and dedicated funding for parks is a critical next step to developing parks we can all be proud of in all our neighborhoods.

On November 5th, citizens in Grand Rapids will have the opportunity to vote to keep parks, pools, and playgrounds from experiencing more cuts, and keep them moving in a positive direction.  Let’s use the partnerships, energy, creative problem solving, and neighborhood initiative that has helped us weather a decade of underfunded parks to begin rebuilding, reinvesting, and leveraging new resources.

Board of Directors
Friends of Grand Rapids ParksYes GR Parks

The Yes! GR Parks Campaign is in need of volunteers to help canvas every day between now and Nov 5th. Visit to volunteer or donate.
Here are some additional resources if you want more background information on this ballot measure.

Parks Ballot Frequently Asked Questions - City of Grand Rapids

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Statement on the Yes! GR Parks campaign

Thank you!

  volunteer event photosAs the park and tree planting volunteer season comes to a close, we want to thank everyone that helped out this year. Special thanks to our partner, the City of GR Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for all their help again this year. 
Just because the snow is ready to fly, doesn't mean there aren't ways you can still help.  Contact Kyle VanStrien  for winter volunteer opportunities.NW Video

Featured Event

Friday Night Conversations at the GRAM: a tree grows in Grand Rapids - Parks as a Catalyst for Successful Urban Planning

As part of the Grand Rapids Art Museum's Masterpieces of American Landscape Painting exhibition, Steve Faber, Executive Director of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, and Patricia Houser PhD, GVSU Planning and Geography, will present on the history of parks in Grand Rapids, how perceptions of landscape have influenced park design, and a look at current and future trends in parks and urban planning. 

ABOUT: Masterpieces of American Landscape Painting 1820–1950

"Painters have responded to America’s scenery in different ways, influenced by current events, technological advancements, and artistic traditions. This exhibition of 48 paintings from the outstanding collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston provides an overview of the history of landscape painting in the United States and intriguing views of the country’s natural beauty. While the exhibition focuses on historical views of the American landscape, it also offers an opportunity to consider how we can protect and preserve it for future generations.

See how great artists have
celebrated the beauty of nature
and captured its essential role in the American experience."

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