GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After more than a year of being closed to the public, Rosa Parks Circle is back open just in time for summer in West Michigan.
Fences went up surrounding the popular downtown gathering place in May of 2021. The plan was to finish the $3 million upgrades by September on the 20th anniversary of Ecliptic, the work created by artist Maya Lin that shapes Rosa Parks Circle.
But crews had to battle manufacturing, shipping and fabrication delays on the materials used for the upgrades.
“People love this space. It’s almost Grand Rapids’ living room. There’s so many different events that happen here,” said Karie Enriquez, project manager of the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department.
Enriquez said there’s no way city leaders could have imagined what this space would mean to the city when it was constructed two decades ago.
“Grand Rapids was a completely different town than it was 20 plus years ago. So the events we see now, weren’t happening 20 years ago,” she said. “It was getting a bit tired based on all the use that had happened in this park space.”
It was time for an upgrade. But then came the supply shortages of the pandemic. Instead of being ready for Ecliptic’s 20th anniversary last September, a June 1 2022 re-opening date was chosen for the unveiling.
The upgrades remain true to the space’s original creator.
“The vision that Maya Lin had, you look at it now it probably looks very similar to how it looked 20 years ago when the concrete was new everything was new. What we’re really looking at now is taking her vision for that and switching out some of that material that had been engineered 20 plus years ago and reviving it making sure it continues for generations,” said Enriquez.
The granite used for the updated seating and cladding on the amphitheater is a new material specifically selected by Lin. It’s a decomposed granite that came with some challenges that added to the delay in the project’s finish date.
“The binder doesn’t work if it’s rained in 72 hours or if the weather gets below 40 degrees. This spring all of those have happened,” said Enriquez.
The restrooms at Rosa Parks Circle received a full upgrade as well.
A tough spring is giving way to a beautiful kickoff to the summer in the city as the popular downtown meeting spot is back open for business.
A rededication event is scheduled for June 17.