Civil emergency, community-police relations, polling changes and more

Published on June 03, 2020

City Commission Roundup image via remote cameras

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids City Commission held its bimonthly meetings online Tuesday and took action on the state of civil emergency, polling locations and election inspector pay, master plan neighborhood facilitators, parks improvements and road and street signal upgrades, among other topics. Here’s a recap

State of civil emergency

The commission voted 5-2 to extend the state of civil emergency that Mayor Bliss enacted Sunday following violent protests and civil unrest downtown. Third Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear and Second Ward Commissioner Milinda Ysasi voted against the extension. The extension does not impact the 48-hour curfew that expired at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Community members still can move freely throughout the community at all times and carry on with their everyday lives.

The state of civil emergency ensures the City has the flexibility and ability to respond to a dynamic emergency such as Saturday’s event. The extension expires 11:59 p.m. June 16. The measure allows the City to seek state resources to assist with emergency responses and financial reimbursement from the state. Read more HERE.

The commission earlier let the state of civil emergency expire during the morning Committee of the Whole meeting.

Community-police relations

City Manager Mark Washington, Police Chief Eric Payne and Oversight and Public Accountability Director Brandon Davis outlined proposals the City was taking to improve community-police relations. These include:

  • Chief Payne and the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) will work together to establish a community police advisory council by June 6
  • The city manager, police chief, OPA and Office of Equity and Engagement Office (OEE) will host an initial virtual town hall to listen to community concerns and seek innovative solutions
  • OPA will increase accountability by reviewing and releasing a comprehensive report and recommendations regarding the status of all prior community-police relations studies, recommendations and commitments
  • The City will host events led by subject matter experts regarding processing and healing from trauma and vicarious trauma related to racism and use of force
  • OEE, OPA and the Economic Development Department will work with the business community to increase summer job opportunities for youth
  • The City will develop a safety and accountability ambassador program designed to train and equip community with tools to promote safety and accountability
  • The City will host training sessions to encourage being an ally in partnership with community
  • OPA will work with the community to review police department policies and practices with a focus on equity and innovation and recommend improvements
  • OEE will increase and enhance training related to equity, justice, implicit bias and other related topics for City staff
  • OPA will complete a strategic plan and implement additional strategies to increase restorative justice programing, elevating community voice and public safety engagement

Washington said these proposed actions were in addition to the collaborative work the community and police department already have done over the past five years regarding transparency and accountability.

“These opportunities will allow us to look at policies, elevate community voice and seek innovative solutions on how we move forward to improve relationships.”

Read the full presentation HERE.

COVID-19 update

City staff provided an update on the City’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. This includes:

  • Departmental re-entry plans are completed
  • City building signage, floor markings and wayfinding are in progress
  • Reopening plans for park amenities are in progress
  • Social zones online guide and special events “fast app” for applications are available

Read the full COVID-19 update HERE.

Polling locations and election worker pay

The commission approved five precinct changes for the Aug. 4 primary. They are:  

  • Ward 1 Precinct 20 is now at St. Paul’s Anglican Catholic Church, 2560 Lake Michigan Drive NW
  • Ward 1 Precinct 21 is now at Highland Hills Baptist Church, 1415 Northrup Ave. NW 
  • Ward 1 Precinct 23 is now at Unity of Grand Rapids Church, 1711 Walker Ave. NW
  • Ward 2 Precinct 36 is now at Yankee Clipper Library, 2025 Leonard St. NE
  • Ward 3 Precinct 61 is now at Calvin Christian Reformed Church, 700 Ethel Ave. SE

Voters in the affected precincts will receive new voter information cards alerting them of their new polling location or a postcard if it is a temporary change. 

The City Commission also set the compensation for election inspectors at $200 a day for precinct chairperson, $180 a day for e-pollbook inspector and $165 a day for all other election inspectors. For more information on how to become an election worker, CLICK HERE.

Master plan facilitators

The commission approved contracts totaling $100,000 with 20 organizations and individuals to serve as master plan neighborhood facilitators. Facilitators will be paid $5,000 to engage the community, conduct neighborhood outreach and hold five community meetings to review the 2002 master plan. These activities are part of the pre-planning phase for the City’s master plan update

The facilitators are:

Park improvements

The commission approved a $975,000 contract for improvements to the Covell Dog Park and Eastern, Pleasant and Richmond parks. The improvements include the demolition of existing park features and the installation of new fencing, concrete walkways, basketball court, playground equipment, site furnishings, landscaping and related sitework.

The 2013 voter-approved parks millage will fund the repairs and improvements. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Tremount Boulevard area infrastructure improvements

The commission approved a $2.1 million contract for:

  • Reconstruction of Tremont Boulevard NW from Covell Avenue to Ravine Drive
  • Resurfacing of Tremont from Ravine to Mount Mercy Drive and Ravine from Tremont to Fourth Street NW
  • Water main replacements on Simpson Court NW from Tremont to North End, Beechton Drive NW from Tremont to North End and Tremont Court from Tremont Boulevard to North End and shared-use path adjacent to Tremont Boulevard NW from Shawmut Boulevard to Mount Mercy Drive. This includes the replacement of the existing 8-inch water main and existing water services, minor storm sewer upgrades, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk ramp installation and sidewalk replacement.

The project is financed by the City’s Water System, Vital Streets and Parking System funds. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Cherry and Grandville traffic light

A new traffic light is coming to the Cherry Street SW-Grandville Avenue intersection following commission approval of the $293,157 project. Read more HERE.

For a complete look at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting agendas, CLICK HERE.


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