GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Efforts to make the Grand River a centerpiece of life in downtown Grand Rapids continue. Part of that effort includes making sure the project is equitable.

That’s what a meeting at the Grand Rapids Public Museum Wednesday afternoon will address. Black Voices at the River, Grand River Voices, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc, and the Urban league of Grand Rapids are sponsoring the event.

“We invite all. And we would like people to come and see was missing. Share your voice. Share your ideas,” said Synia Gant-Jordan with the Grand Rapids African American Community Task Force.

Expanding riverfront trails and creating more public spaces are part of the overall plan. That involves millions of dollars in work for local contractors.

One of the main focuses of the meeting is helping minority contracts bid for those jobs.

“How do they get involved and make a generational transition to create legacy on the river? Job opportunities. Development. Ownership,“ explained Gant-Jordan.

A major piece of the overall project involves restoring the rapids on the Grand River and creating new recreational activities. 

But first, Grand Rapids WhiteWater has to get through the permit process involving an alphabet list of Federal and State Agencies.  

“There are seven regulatory agencies that have a say in this and were working through all of those processes,” said GRWW President and CEO Steve Heacock.

Grand Rapids WhiteWater has been awarded a $4.1 million grant from the Federal Government for the $18 million first phase of their project. But timing could be a challenge.

Major permits from the State Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy have yet to be approved.

GR WhiteWater and EGLE continue to work through the process.

“Things are clicking in place as we work through this. But clearly the EGLE-EPA one is the primary thing we’re working on and diligently working towards solutions,” said Heacock.

In order to receive the $4.1 million in Federal Funds, the EGLE permits have to be issued by the end of June.

“So we’re getting down to where permits are going to have to be issued or were going to worry about that part of the funding,” said Heacock.

The meeting runs from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. There is also an online participation option.