Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan

Header image for master plan initiative  


Community input was at the heart of this plan, and will continue to be as it becomes reality. The plan focuses on the needs of the community, inclusive recreation, economic growth, and funding. The Strategic Master Plan was adopted in June 2017.

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, individual park master plans and clerical edits.

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


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.

The master plan amendment also includes the addition of individual master park master plans for reference with Department of Natural Resource grants and a few clerical edits including map updates and page number additions to the appendix.

Connected Network

Create 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 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.

Our new mission, vision, and values come 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

We're always working to achieve our goals. Here's what's already been implemented in the past year:

  • Collaboration with Grand Rapids Public Schools, Our Community's Children, and other partners for environmental education features and programming on school sites
  • Completed design for inclusive, universally accessible playground at Ottawa Hills Park
  • Grand River Corridor Design Guidelines
  • Strengthened partnership with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to increase park activation and stewardship opportunities
  • Free summer day camp for neighborhood youth at MLK Park
  • Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards purchased for new recreation options
  • New spinning bikes and studio space
  • Nature trail construction at Ball-Perkins Park and Huff Park
  • New winter recreation opportunities at Indian Trails Golf Course
  • Expanded free fitness opportunities to neighborhood parks
  • Improved services on new City website

Project Overview

Public Open House #2

Public Open House #3

Public Open House #4

Where We've Been

Community Input

2010 5-Year Master Plan

More Information

Thank you to the thousands community members who have contributed to the future of your city and your parks!