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Grand Rapids celebrates reopening of Roberto Clemente Park

robert clemente park.jpg
Posted at 4:54 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 16:54:49-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids city officials celebrated on Friday the grand reopening of Roberto Clemente Park.

The park received “significant” upgrades and renovations thanks to a $242,500 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund, about $951,500 from the city’s 2013 parks millage and $300,000 from the city’s Environmental Services Department.

Renovations include:

  • New outdoor discovery area featuring a play area and seating to provide recreation and an outdoor classroom space for students. Officials say the play area offers universal access and was created using natural materials such as logs and boulders.
  • Universally accessible six-foot-wide and eight-foot-wide concrete pathways to connect park amenities and new energy efficient lighting for safety
  • New picnic shelter and all gender restroom buildings that meet universal design standards
  • New accessible path to soccer bleachers and new perimeter fencing at soccer field
  • New furnishings including bike racks, benches, picnic tables, domino tables, grills, drinking fountain and trash bins to enhance visitors’ experience

In addition to these upgrades, Roberto Clemente Park also received innovative, daylighted stormwater infrastructure meant to protect the Grand River and Lake Michigan.

Those upgrades include:

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

“This project seamlessly ties together our priorities for the park system,” said David Marquardt, the city’s parks and recreation director. “From sustainability and outdoor education, to creating a healthier and more connected neighborhood, Roberto Clemente Park’s transformation is the result of active community involvement, intentional design and strategic partnerships.”

The project was 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 Grands Rapids Parks and the Puerto Rican Cultural Committee of West Michigan.

Established in 1911 as Rumsey Park, it was later renamed in honor of the late Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Roberto Clemente.