City breaks ground on Roberto Clemente Park improvements

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On Thursday, the City of Grand Rapids celebrated a groundbreaking at Roberto Clemente Park, which is the latest park that will see a host of improvements.

According to a press release from the city, Roberto Clemente Park will undergo significant upgrades and renovations with funding from a $242,000 Michigan DNR Trust Fund grant, approximately $951,000 from the city’s 2013 parks millage and $300,000 Environmental Services Department.

The grant will support the following renovations and developments:

  • New outdoor discovery area featuring a play area, seating and stage that will provide recreation and outdoor classroom space for children. The play area will offer universal access and be made with natural materials such as logs and boulders.
  • Universally accessible 6-foot-wide and 8-foot-wide concrete walking trails that will connect park amenities and new energy efficient lighting for safety.
  • Demolition of current restroom, shelter building and parking lot. Amenities will be replaced with a new picnic shelter and a restroom building that meet universal design standards, accessible walkways, upgraded LED lighting and more.
  • New furnishings that will include bike racks, benches, picnic tables, grills, drinking fountain and trash bins to enhance visitor experience. Many picnic tables will offer space for wheelchair seating.

RELATED: Grand Rapids receives state funding to upgrade Roberto Clemente Park

In addition to these park upgrades, Roberto Clemente Park also will feature innovative daylighted stormwater infrastructure that will protect the Grand River and Lake Michigan. These upgrades include:

  • New green infrastructure that will include bioswales, rain gardens and educational signage throughout the park
  • Native meadow plantings that will naturalize much of the passive areas, filter pollutants and help reduce stormwater runoff
  • Native plantings that will clean and absorb water and naturalize the park
  • Educational signage throughout the park that will teach visitors about the impact of stormwater on the environment

“Our parks are the cornerstone of what makes Grand Rapids a great city,” David Marquardt, parks and recreation director, said in the press release. “The project at Roberto Clemente Park is one of the many ways we’re bringing sustainable, educational and innovative new features to our park system.”

The project is supported by community groups and institutions including Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Southwest Community Campus and Cesar Chavez Elementary, Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, Disability Advocates of Kent County, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, and the Puerto Rican Cultural Committee of Grand Rapids.

Roberto Clemente Park is located at 546 Rumsey St. SW. It was established in 1911 as Rumsey Park. It later was renamed in honor of the late Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente. 

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