Park To Commemorate Verne Barry

July 16, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Former Downtown Development Authority Chairman Verne Barry will be memorialized in the new Heartside Park.

Barry, who fought diligently for the park located on Ionia Avenue a few blocks south of Fulton Street, will have his efforts remembered through a brass plaque mounted in an oak frame that will be placed near the entrance to the park.

“Verne was instrumental in getting the park built,” said DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler.

The DDA agreed to contribute $2,500 to a fundraising effort being done by the Heartside Park Organizing Committee. The group wants to raise $10,000 to pay for the plaque, two glass mosaics and two 8-feet-high concrete walls the mosaics will be mounted on.

DDA member Casey Wondergem agreed to lead an effort within the private sector to raise the remaining $7,500.

“It seems to me that raising $7,500 would be easy,” said Wondergem, a close friend of Barry, who died earlier this year.

Degage Ministries, 144 S. Division Ave., handles contributions for the park. Checks should be made out to the Heartside Park Fund – Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Glenn Swier, a member of the organizing committee, said a dedication ceremony for the park is planned for Sept. 25.

In other news, Mayor George Heartwell appointed David Cassard as DDA chairman for the remainder of the year. Cassard, president of Waters Corp., has served as the board’s vice-chairman. Heartwell also named Kayem Dunn as the new vice-chair.

Two members will have to be appointed to the board soon; one to fill Barry’s seat and another as a replacement for Jeff Steinport. Steinport, who represented Grand Rapids Public Schools on the DDA, recently resigned from the board. City commissioners will have to approve both nominations to the DDA.    

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