Government and Law

Grand Rapids 'bolstering safety' through pilot programs

July 9, 2019
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Joe Taylor Park Grand Rapids
Joe Taylor Park. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids is developing new "community-based" pilot programs to help keep its residents active and safe this summer in the wake of a recent shooting at Joe Taylor Park.

“We intend to elevate the quality of life for all of our residents through deliberate plans and intentional partnerships,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “These pilot programs are part of those plans. We believe we can positively activate our community and help reduce gun violence in our city through these community-based solutions.”

Residents can participate in expanded recreational activities, including a summer camp at Joe Taylor Park, 1031 Baxter St. SE. They also can take part in basketball, tennis and football. Other activities include jump rope, dancing, yoga, swimming, field trips, and learning opportunities such as creative writing and reading, among other things, Monday-Friday, until mid-August.

Activities are free but registration is required by calling (616) 456-3696.

To enhance the safety of residents, the city also has established a park ambassador program. Grand Rapids will be adding park ambassadors to Garfield, Highland, Joe Taylor and Martin Luther King parks. There will be two ambassadors at each park from 3-9 p.m., seven days a week, until the end of September.

The ambassadors will be able to answer visitors’ questions, clarify park rules, offer needed assistance and provide light maintenance such as trash pickup and restroom upkeep. There will be a park ambassador tent at each park with information about city services.

The city also has planned three community events at each of the neighborhood parks in late July or early August. More details will be on the city’s website.

“We encourage residents of all ages to join us at our parks this summer and enjoy all that they have to offer,” said David Marquardt, Parks and Recreation director. “Our parks are great places to connect with neighbors and create community.”

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