Street Talk

Street Talk: Going to the dogs

Invasive questioning.

April 12, 2019
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Grand Rapids has no shortage of dog owners, but the city’s parks master plan revealed there weren’t a lot of good places for everyone’s four-legged friends.

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority Board recently authorized funding of up to $25,000 to test a pop-up, off-leash dog park in partnership with Maplegrove Properties. The project aspires to add a new lifestyle amenity that appeals to and supports the growing number of downtown residents. The pop-up dog park also comes in direct response to a recent parks master plan process that identified a deficit of dog parks in Grand Rapids.

“Market research reveals more than 5,000 households own at least one dog in the 49503 ZIP code alone,” said Stephanie Wong, project manager for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. “That’s a good number of dogs. Yet, we only have two public dog parks, and neither are conveniently walkable for downtown residents.”

She said dog parks benefit more than just four-legged friends.

The sites also provide a hub for pets and owners to gather and socialize, as well as increase foot traffic and sidewalk activity.

The pop-up dog park will be located at 210 Market Ave. SW, a property owned by Maplegrove Property Management.

The property currently is an underutilized 8,000-square-foot lot. It is directly across the street from 234 Market, a new mixed-use residential building that includes 235 apartments and dog-friendly units Maplegrove opened in 2018.

DGRI will maintain and operate the dog park. Pet owners will be responsible for cleaning up after their dogs and caring for the site. The park will be open year-round, and hours of operation will be 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, which are consistent with city parks hours. The space will include two defined areas — one for small dogs and another for all dogs.

Other features include 6-foot tall fencing along the perimeter, a double-gated entrance and exit, trash receptacles and dog bag dispensers at each exit, rock seating and planter boxes with landscaping.

The pop-up dog park is expected to open next month. Partners of the pilot said they will evaluate the project’s performance after one year and then decide on a future direction.

Investing in students

Kentwood-based Autocam Medical, a global contract manufacturer of precision surgical and medical components and devices, said this month it will be thinking of the future by sponsoring the annual MiCareerQuest from 8:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. April 24.

The career exploration experience for 14- to 18-year-old students will be held at DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids.

Created in 2015 by area Michigan Works! offices, the Kent ISD and the Construction Workforce Development Alliance (CWDA), MiCareerQuest aims to address the growing demand for talent in four key industries.

“A significant portion of our workforce in the construction, health sciences, information technology and manufacturing industries will be retiring over the next decade. This is just one of the forward-thinking ways that Autocam Medical is helping to stimulate the workforce in those fields,” said Tom O’Mara, executive vice president at Autocam.

More than 9,000 students are expected to attend the event. They will have the opportunity to engage with professionals and try different activities in high-growth occupations as they contemplate their future careers.

At the event, Autocam Medical will provide students with the opportunity to watch their initials be laser-etched into a key tag, and view leg and arm replicas showing how the company’s components and devices are used.

They also will have the opportunity to simulate a doctor’s experience by drilling and screwing components into bone blocks.

More information about MiCareerQuest is available at

Court adjourned

The 62-B District Court and the 63rd District Court have concluded their monthlong waiver program, jointly resolving 281 cases and collecting $70,001.81 in overdue fines and costs.

The 63rd District Court collected $41,927.00 in payments on 179 cases. The 62-B District Court collected $28,074.81 in payments on 102 cases.

During March 2019, the program allowed individuals to come into compliance with court orders by settling their debts without further penalty or incarceration. The program addressed outstanding warrants for noncompliance with a court order of fines, fees, court costs and any outstanding traffic or parking tickets in default or suspension.

“We are really pleased with how the waiver program went and that it helped so many people from our community to resolve their business with the court,” 63rd District Court Chief Judge Sara Smolenski said.

The Kentwood district court’s top jurist had a similar reaction.

“We are pleased that so many people were able to clear up the suspensions of their driver’s licenses and arrest warrants,” 62-B District Court Chief Judge William G. Kelly said.

This is the second time the courts implemented the program. In October 2017, all six district courts in Kent County participated. At that time, 133 defendants settled $22,000 in fines for the 63rd District Court, said Hilary Arthur, 63rd District Court administrator/magistrate.

Arthur said this program is part of the 63rd District Court’s overall push toward helping people settle their obligations.

In general, eligible defendants can set up payment plans for fines immediately. In some cases — usually misdemeanors, on an individual basis — low-income defendants can pay off their fines through community service, valued at $10 per hour.

Arthur said the goal is to encourage people not to be afraid of making payment arrangements with the collections clerk.

“If people work with the court, the court will work with them,” Arthur said.

Any individuals who have outstanding debts or would like to discuss any past-due fines and costs may contact the 62-B District Court at (616) 698- 9310 or 63rd District Court at (616) 632-7770 for further information.

River response

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District is asking the community for feedback on the proposed Grand River Habitat Restoration and Invasive Species Control Project.

The group is using the input to help create an environmental impact statement on behalf of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The impact statement will include several project alternatives based on public comment and agency expertise that consider the direct, indirect and overall impacts on water and air quality, fish and wildlife populations, floodplains and more.

The Grand River Habitat Restoration and Invasive Species Control Project must do the following:

  • Block invasive sea lamprey from moving upstream (currently blocked by the existing Sixth Street Dam)
  • Maintain or reduce the current risk of flooding upstream
  • Provide for fish passage into upstream areas
  • Reduce negative impacts on endangered mussel populations

The group is taking comments and questions until May 15 at

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