City of Grand Rapids celebrates grand reopening at Ken-O-Sha Park

Published on August 19, 2021

A picture containing a new Ken-O-Sha park structure.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids today celebrated the grand reopening of Ken-O-Sha Park. Improvements include a new natural playscape using recycled fallen trees, an outdoor classroom, new green infrastructure and daylighted stormwater, a nature amplifier along Plaster Creek, a screened portable restroom at the Plaster Creek Trail trailhead, new accessible pathways, and educational and wayfinding signage.


The cost of improvements at Ken-O-Sha Park– located behind Ken-O-Sha Elementary at 1353 Van Auken St. SE – total $586,200.

  • $436,200 of funding was provided by the 2013 voter-approved parks millage.
  • $124,000 of funding was provided by a Great Urban Parks grant from the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA).
  • $26,000 of funding was provided through the Target Corporation in partnership with NRPA and the Connecting Communities to Outdoor Play initiative.

Grand Rapids was one of 10 organizations awarded the Great Urban Parks grant, which supports the development of green stormwater infrastructure. The grant also supported GReen Stewards youth employment at Ken-O-Sha Park and Plaster Creek Trail in 2019.

The Connecting Communities to Outdoor Play initiative supports the combined goal to increase access to play and physical activity for kids and families through built environment enhancements.

The Ken-O-Sha Park project team includes VIRIDIS Design Group and Pride Builders Group. Grand Rapids Public Schools and Plaster Creek Stewards are also community partners.


“The improvements at Ken-O-Sha Park are a perfect example of combining play, education, and environmental sustainability,” said David Marquardt, the City’s parks and recreation director. “We’re grateful to our funding partners that allowed us to leverage tax dollars to invest even further in this important community space.”


“The natural playscape and outdoor classroom will provide new, unique educational opportunities for families, students and teachers,” said Jen Schottke, president of the Grand Rapids Board of Education.


“Park and recreation professionals, who serve nearly every community in the United States, are essential in building more resilient and sustainable communities, which includes addressing and supporting the important role of green infrastructure solutions” said Ayanna Williams, NRPA’s director of community and environmental resilience.


“Utilizing parks to mitigate flooding and other climate-related weather impacts is a critical strategy in protecting neighborhoods. We know from our past work that these projects also offer a multitude of benefits beyond environmental stewardship, including improved community health, park access and social cohesion. We’re looking forward to seeing those impacts encourage the next generation of environmental stewards.”

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