Adopted in June 1017, the Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan creates a vision for the long-term development, programming, and sustainability of Grand Rapids' parks, public open spaces, and recreation facilities. The plan considers community needs, recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities, economic development, environmental conditions, priority projects and funding. Community engagement was at the heart of this effort, and will continue to be at the heart of implementing this plan. 


View the final plan:
Zine Executive Summary.pdf​ (20 page Master Plan Summary)
Master Plan Appendices.pdf​  (162 pages)​​



Master Plan Goals
The plan lays out strategies to bring walkable parks to every neighborhood, new recreation programs, improve existing amenities, and make the system financially and environmentally sustainable.  These strategies are broken into four major goals:


Connected Network

Create a connected network of parks, natural areas and waterways that is accessible to all of the Grand Rapids community.

Healthy Community

Create programs and projects that ensure the park and recreation supports the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all Grand Rapidians.

Neighborhood Investments

​Enhance the diversity and experience of the park and recreation system by drawing on community feedback, local ecology and national trends

​Sustainable System

​Seek innovative solutions to become more financially self-sustainable and diversity funding sources​


Strategic Direction

The Master Plan goals listed above were created within the framework of community needs and input, as well as the development of the Department’s new mission, vision, guiding principles and values.

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​


Making It Happen

Many of the Master Plan principles and ideas are already being implemented in projects this summer, such as:

​∙ Kayaks, stand-up paddleboards purchased for new recreation opportunities

​∙ Water play features that showcase Michigan identity at Aberdeen Park

​∙ Nature trails and tree identification at Ball-Perkins Park

​∙ Neighborhood art projects at Alexander Park and Dickinson Park

​∙ Table tennis at Garfield, Pleasant, Richmond, Riverside and Wilcox parks

​∙ Website redesign and improved digital services​

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​Have an idea for a pilot project at your neighborhood park? Let us know!



More Information
Information, presentations, and records from the planning process.

Project Overview: 
Public Open House #2: Analysis and Visioning (July 2016)
(1) Grand Rapids' Park Story (2) Our System Today (3) Opportunities for Enhancement

Public Open House #3: A Vision for the Future of GR Parks (September 2016)

Public Open House #4: Making it Happen (December 2016)

Where We've Been: 

Summary of Community Input via MyParks Online Survey: 

2010 5-year Master Plan



THANK YOU to the thousands community members who have contributed to the future of your city and your parks!​
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