Huff Park boardwalk to be replaced

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GRAND RAPIDS -- A popular park in Grand Rapids isn't being utilized the way that it was intended due to a boardwalk that is falling apart.

Huff Park, on the city's northeast side, has athletic fields, a bridge, playground and a boardwalk over a marshy area.

"This is one park in Grand Rapids' parks system that is an incredible natural resource," says David Marquardt, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Grand Rapids. "We don't have many of these in this city. Not many cities do.  And so for that reason we've got to be very protective of this space, we've got to work very hard to enhance this space."

The boardwalk winds through a marshy area, making park visitors feel like they're out of the city and into nature.   However, it has several bent, broken and missing boards, along with water going over the top of it in many places.

Marilyn Heeringa lives near Huff Park, and visits the park twice a day.  She said she hasn't been on the boardwalk in a while, though.

"No, I haven't in the past year because I don't feel comfortable with it," she says. "It's squeaky and it's muddy and the boards aren't safe."

However, the boardwalk will be safe to walk on once again thanks to a $300,000 grant from the state  that was approved a few weeks ago and $900,000 from a city millage that passed in 2013.

With the money now available, the city is moving ahead into the planning stages of the new boardwalk.

"It is a process. So what we do is we've got to start to understand how to build this thing, how to reconstruct it in a way where it's more sustainable and can last for a longer time," says Marquardt. "So that's looking at different construction materials, looking at how to build those."

In addition to Huff Park, Marquardt says at least eight other Grand Rapids parks are now or will soon be seeing repairs.

"For the year 2017, fiscal year 2017, we'll be looking at construction here at Huff Park, we'll be looking at Aberdeen Park, Ball Perkins Park, and that's in addition to the projects that are under construction this summer - the six park projects."

The new Huff Park boardwalk is expected to be complete in the summer of 2017.

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