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City of Grand Rapids adopts new advertising, sponsorship policies

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Posted at 11:49 AM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 11:49:40-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday adopted a series of resolutions regulating transit-related advertising and partnerships, parks and recreation sponsorships and parks naming protocols.

The policies will help the city get the financial and in-kind support it needs to sustain and expand parks, facilities, recreational opportunities and various transit programs, a news release said Thursday.

Only commercial ads will be allowed on transit facilities and vehicles, meaning no political campaign speech, profanity or violence or promoting products like tobacco, marijuana, firearms, alcohol, ammunition or adult entertainment, among others.

Transit advertising policies encompass DASH buses and all mobility and transit stop amenities, such as scooter and bike share infrastructure, stops, shelters and benches within city limits.

It doesn’t apply to Rapid buses since the Interurban Transit Partnership already has an agency advertising policy.

Parks and Recreation Director David Marquardt says naming or renaming facilities is a complex issue because it’s a powerful and permanent identity for a public space.

“The names of parks, buildings and major features tell the important stories of Grand Rapids history,” he said.

Naming request approvals involve the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Parks and Recreation Department and ultimately the city manager and city commission.

The department supports naming requests following three broad categories: exceptional individuals, historic events, places and persons, and major gifts.

The Commission also approved a new sponsorship policy that aims to “create more sophisticated business partnerships with for-profit sectors in the form of event, program, project and site sponsorships.”

Marquardt says the agreements provide important marketing venues for businesses and an opportunity to align themselves with the Parks and Recreation Department’s mission.

Mobile GR plans to use this policy to promote opportunities for partners to help deliver mobility solutions that are innovative, efficient, equitable, safe, affordable and convenient to the community.

The policy offers two sponsorship categories around event and project sponsorships.

These include financial or in-kind support for department-organized event on city property and for a specific department project, which is typically a one-time effort.

Program sponsorships can include a series of ongoing activities like youth sports, classes or commuter training.

Site sponsorships, on the other hand, are for specific places or features, such as park entry flower beds, river walkways and planting beds, shared mobility docking stations or bike repair stations.

City Commission also amended its Adopt-a-Park and Parks and Recreation partnership and sponsorship programs policy, establishing a procedure and basic criteria for organizations, donors and volunteers seeking to provide or partner with the department in funds, programs or facilities uses.

Because of the more robust sponsorship policy, the Commission also removed from “Adopt-a-Park" references to sponsorships and partnerships and directed those wanting to establish a formal sponsorship to follow the new policy.

Adopt-a-Park allows individuals, volunteer groups, neighborhood associations and businesses to take an active role in improving, maintaining and beautifying parks, riverfront, trails or other city-owned green spaces.

Read the new policies in full here.