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Grand Rapids hosts 'Commission Night Out' and draws a large crowd

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Posted at 9:18 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 22:29:49-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids hosted its first "Commission Night Out" event in years. There were many topics on the table, like policing and housing.

The city commission wanted to have more of a one-on-one conversation than a traditional meeting at City Hall- so they set up tables to have discussions on issues impacting people in the city.

A dozen tables were set up at Sibley Elementary on Tuesday night, and there weren't many open seats left.

"So, it's important for people to come to City Hall, but it's also important for City Hall to come to the people," Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington said.

This is City of Grand Rapids Commission's first of three such meetings.

"I think if we're not gonna be part of the solution, then we're kind of part of the problem," Krista Harmon told FOX 17.

Harmon is one of many new faces who attended "Commission Night Out."

"When we found out this was very close to where we live, it was kind of a no-brainer to stop by, honestly," Andrew Carter said.

The tables were set up to facilitate discussion on community safety, quality of life, economic opportunity, and infrastructure.

"I would say I really got to learn about different nonprofit and public organizations in regards to like public safety, and helping out with like, affordable housing, and basically homelessness, homelessness, and unemployment," Carter said.

People also had the opportunity to write down their ideas for the city to keep and build upon.

"Some of it was even around fair housing, equitable access to some of the programming. So everyone feels welcome, making sure some of the cultural experiences meet everyone's needs," said Harmon.

The meeting also highlighted the latest data from the National Community Survey.

The survey showcases both how the city is succeeding and how it could improve in areas such as housing and public safety.

"I was talking about public at a public safety table. We've spent our time talking about how can we build a sense of belonging and build connections to between neighbors? So whether that's community events, investing in neighborhood associations in a different way? And how do we get people to be more neighbors to each other," Grand Rapids City 1st Ward Commissioner Kurt Reppart told FOX 17.

Some who attended the meeting weren't from the first ward, but that is okay. Everyone is welcome to these meetings, no matter what ward they are being held in.

Two commission meetings, both similar to Tuesday night's, are coming up later this year.

The third ward will play host on September 20 and the second ward on October 18. The city hasn't yet posted where those meetings are being held.

READ MORE: City of Grand Rapids to host first neighbor engagement session in two years

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