GR Community Master Plan update underway

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of Grand Raid is updating its plan for the future.

On Wednesday, the city’s Community Master Plan Steering Committee will meet with Mayor Rosalynn Bliss to begin work on a game plan to guide the city over the next two decades.

One of the top priorities for the Community Master Plan is a guide for future housing needs in the city, including the need for density in a city where space is at a premium.

But that’s not the only priority.

In a diverse community like Grand Rapids, the needs of neighborhoods like West Grand differ from the needs of the minority businesses community.

“Affordable housing. A safe, walkable neighborhood,” said Annette Vandenberg, the executive director of the West Grand Neighborhood Organization.

“We’re going to need to see these businesses in at a different level, not just the Latinx business community, but the African American Community, the Asian Community,” said Guillermo Cisneros, the executive director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Vandenberg and Cisneros will join 48 other Community Master Plan Steering Committee members to talk about those needs.

“A community master plan really sets forth a 20 year vision for how does a city want to grow and develop,” said Grand Rapids Planning Director Kristin Turkelson. “What does Grand Rapids look like in 20 years? What are the needs of the community? And then we can work on the policy work for how we can accomplish that.”

The Grand Rapids Master Plan was last updated in 2002.

The word Community was added to the title for this update.

“Not everybody has participated in these processes in the past,” said Turkelson. “And we really need to be intentional about reaching out to make sure that the vision that we create is for everybody in our community.”

Wednesday’s meeting is more a “get to you know you” session among steering committee members.

Soon, they’ll start sorting through the wants, needs and other input they’ve gathered from the community.

Come spring, more community input will be gathered.

The effort is designed to create more equitable outcomes by listening to more diverse opinions.

“I’m feeling hopeful that there will be a lot of voices at the table to help, not just to learn about how other people view the City of Grand Rapids, but also to make sure that the people they represent are also being represented in a way that’s meaningful,” said Vandenberg.

“We have become almost 35% people of color between the African American and Latinx Communities in Grand Rapids. The number continue to grow. So I’m optimistic. But again, we need to get to work,” said Cisneros.

Final approval of the Community Master Plan is expected by sometime in 2024.

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