Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan

Header image for master plan initiative


Grand Rapids residents continue to emphasize that parks, natural spaces and safe recreational opportunities are an important part of our community. Parks are vital to our health and wellbeing and have been especially important spaces for our community as we live through a global pandemic.

Every five years the City of Grand Rapids updates our parks master plan, which provides a road map for the long-term development and sustainability of our park system.

Plan Updates

The 2022-2026 Parks Master Plan will look at ways we can:

  • Create equitable access to parks in every neighborhood.
  • Ensure we have the right number and distribution of recreational facilities.
  • Develop creative and inclusive programming for our community.
  • Expand community impact through partnerships and creative funding strategies.

Get involved – help us shape the plan!

Online Surveys

Share your feedback on the following parks and public spaces.

Photo Vision Challenge

Share your stories and ideas for the future of our park system through photos! To participate in the challenge, post a photo of your neighborhood park to Instagram with one or all of the following:

  • A description of what you currently enjoy at your park
  • What could be improved at the park
  • What activities you want to see at the park

To submit the photo, participants must tag @grparksandrec and use the hashtag #YourCityYourParks. If your account is private, you can message us directly with your photo and comment.

Photos will be reposted on the Parks and Recreation department’s Instagram account as a collective community gallery. 

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Our new mission, vision, and goals were developed from community needs and input.

Department Mission

To provide our community with inspirational experiences through the responsible management and collaborative stewardship of the City’s natural, educational, and cultural resources.

Department Vision

Creating and supporting a healthy, vibrant community through:

  • Active neighborhoods
  • Inclusive programs and events
  • Innovation and best practices
  • Exceptional services
  • Embracing diversity

Department Goals

  • Connected NetworkCreate a connected network of parks, natural areas and waterways accessible to the entire Grand Rapids community.
  • Healthy Community - Create programs and projects that support the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all community members.
  • Neighborhood Investments - Create diverse experiences by drawing on community feedback, local ecology and national trends.
  • Sustainable System - Seek innovative solutions to become more financially self-sustainable and diversify funding sources.

River for All Corridor Plan

An amendment to the 2017 Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan was approved by City Commission on January 21, 2020. The amendment included the Grand River Corridor Implementation Plan and River Trail Design Guidelines, also known as River for All.

The River For All river corridor plan is the result of robust community engagement and features three primary components. They are:

  • Grand River corridor design guidelines(PDF, 30MB) – Provide design guidelines for the future river trail and river edge improvements along the 7.5-mile river corridor to create a cohesive and accessible river trail system that serves the entire Grand Rapids community
  • Conceptual design for six opportunity sites(PDF, 3MB) on the border of the Grand River – Expands on the design guidelines to create conceptual design for six sites along the corridor: Leonard to Ann trail connection, Water Department storage yard site, Coldbrook decommissioned water treatment plant site, North Monroe redevelopment site, Grand Rapids Public Museum and Fish Ladder Park
  • Strategic asset management plan(PDF, 4MB) – Examines how the future improvement recommendations outlined in the design Guidelines should be managed and maintained for their long-term success

Want to learn more about current river development?

River For All


The river corridor plan builds on the 2012 Green Grand Rapids master plan2015 GR Forward plan and 2017 Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan to further their vision into the next step toward implementation.

The River for All plan symbolizes the significance of the Grand River to Grand Rapids, Kent County and West Michigan as a prominent feature that can enhance the quality of life for all through activation, beautification, restoration and connection. The river improvements and public spaces along the riverfront are expected to be amenities for all residents and visitors of Grand Rapids to enjoy.

Bike routes, pedestrian trails and tributaries will provide connections to residents outside of the river corridor and into adjacent neighborhoods, providing a critical missing link for the region. The Grand River corridor implementation plan, river trail design guidelines and the effort to restore the rapids and enhance flood protection in the Grand River are all part of the vision to create a river for all.