City bolstering safety through recreational options, park ambassadors

Published on July 09, 2019

Photograph of children playing at Joe Taylor Park

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids is enhancing community safety and opportunity through expanded recreational offerings, a new park ambassadors program and a park event in each of the city’s three wards. The City developed the pilot programs shortly after a recent shooting incident at Joe Taylor Park.

“We intend to elevate the quality of life for all of our residents through deliberate plans and intentional partnerships,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “These pilot programs are part of those plans. We believe we can positively activate our community and help reduce gun violence in our city through these community-based solutions.”

The expanded recreational opportunities will include the addition of a youth program at Joe Taylor Park, 1031 Baxter St. SE. The program will run Monday through Friday starting in mid-July through mid-August. It’s free for city of Grand Rapids residents. However, registration is required by calling 616.456.3696. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department already hosts a similar youth program at Martin Luther King Park. Details are HERE

Plans also call for the addition of park ambassadors at four neighborhood parks across the city. Each park – Garfield, Highland, Joe Taylor and Martin Luther King – will have two ambassadors who will be on site 3 to 9 p.m. seven days a week starting in mid-July to the end of September. The ambassadors will answer visitors’ questions, clarify park rules, offer needed assistance, provide light maintenance such as trash pickup and restroom upkeep and be a presence in the park. A park ambassador tent will be added at each of the four parks that will include information about City services. 

The City is accepting applications for the park ambassador position HERE.

The third pilot program includes three community events in neighborhood parks this summer. These events will take place in late July or early August in Garfield, Highland or Riverside and Joe Taylor parks. Details will be announced soon.

“We encourage residents of all ages to join us at our parks this summer and enjoy all that they have to offer,” Parks and Recreation Director David Marquardt said. “Our parks are great places to connect with neighbors and create community.”

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