Rosalynn Bliss gives State of the City address

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss delivered her third State of the City address Monday night.

She used the address to look back at the city’s accomplishments in 2018, but acknowledged that there are still a lot of ways Grand Rapids can improve.

“We all share a common goal of being a city of hope and love, compassion and opportunity,” she said. “A city where people feel connected and where they feel that they belong.”

Bliss unveiled the city’s new strategic plan Monday night, which included several points aimed at the well-being of residents: economic growth, equal opportunity, mobility and affordable housing.

“We need to be a city where we have mobility options for everyone, we need to be a people-focused, smart city -- one that nurtures innovation and one that is prepared for future and changing technology,” Bliss said.

Finding affordable housing has become a challenge for some in Grand Rapids. City leaders have addressed the issue in the past, and Bliss said the city needs to continue to do more to ensure all people can call Grand Rapids home.

“We must be a city where there is a place for everyone who wishes to call Grand Rapids home, for them to be able to find a place to live,” she said.

Bliss touched on one of her top priorities when taking over office: improving outdoor spaces.

She said Clemente Park is getting a complete park reconstruction, with picnic shelter, restrooms and a soccer field. Riverside Park is going to receive a new accessible kayak launch.

Bliss said none of the city’s goals are possible without the involvement of its residents.

“This work must happen with each of us carrying in our hearts, the belief that our role in this community and our own individual efforts, they do indeed make a significant difference in this place that we all call home,” Bliss said.

After asking her residents to be involved in the growth of Grand Rapids, Bliss called on them to help provide an accurate census in 2020, saying an accurate count will help schools receive the funding they need.

“I do not want our community to miss out our fair share of state and federal funding or of having fair political representation,” Bliss said.

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