City unveils plans for new Grand River waterfront

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Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids revealed conceptual plans Thursday for what the Grand River corridor could look like after restoration efforts take place.

“A revitalized riverfront will provide spaces and connected trails that invite Grand Rapidians to enjoy natural amenities in an urban context while also strengthening our community’s ability to withstand severe flood events,” Tim Kelly, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. said in a press release.

The “River for All” project includes six different sites and design guidelines the the city says will help shape the future of the river corridor. The goal is to create a user-friendly and accessible 7.5-mile river trail that will flank both sides of the Grand River between Riverside Park to the north and Millennium Park to the south.

Plans include a water storage yarda connecting trail between Leonard and Ann streets, and improvement of areas near the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Fish Ladder Park.

There are also plans to create off-street green areas and increasing natural light along the river near Coldbrook Street in addition to extending the river walk from Riverside to Millennium Park.

Grand Rapids Whitewater says that construction on the anticipated plan could begin in late 2019 or early 2020 to take advantage of $4.1 million of federal funding.  The first phase of in-river construction would take place from I-196 to Fulton Street and would remove four low-head dams currently in the river.  The Sixth Street Dam will remain in place to function as a barrier against the invasive sea lamprey until a new barrier is built upstream.

The plan was unveiled at a public meeting at DeVos Place.

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  • C

    According to WOOD TV 8, these plans came after public input. Who are the people that spoke for the public? I’m not necessarily against these plans, but there seems to be a little smoke and mirrors here and the plans are those of Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. and little, if any, from residents.

  • Donna

    As much I am sure it would be beautiful. I believe more that the city would benefit a great deal more by HELPING the homeless. Imagine the change. Unfortunately I have no doubt that the wealthy truly care about them. Shameful.

    • steve

      The city ought to build a publicly owned casino down by Van Andel Arena. Those in City Hall are so hell bent on attracting tourist and convention dollars, I’m guessing the a casino would be more attractive than a gorgeous river park. Sure, there could be improvements to the riverfront as well, but not like these people are proposing. The city could earmark a portion of the revenue, which 300 Monroe always desires, for projects like helping those in need. And, as an afterthought, more people might enjoy a warm casino game than a mid-winter stroll down the riverfront.

  • John Levings

    Has it occurred to anyone, the City of Gr Rapids (or Kent County) could propose a millage to voters, dedicated solely to finance the restoration of the Grand River ? Interest rates are low, GR has a good credit rating & the City is not over-indebted. What will a $10 million bond issue (20 yr) cost someone w/ $200K home?

    Traverse City & Gr Traverse County contributed virtually nothing to the removal of 3 dams in the Boardman River. Traverse City & Gr Traverse County owned the 3 hydroelectric dams for ~100 yrs. (A ‘sinking fund’ would have made removal/ restoration of the Boardman R. financially painless due to the power of compounding interest…)

    GR is a large diverse city w/ the financial capacity to cover 1/2 the cost of removing its old dangerous dams & restoring it River.

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