GR expands program to cut down chemical pollution at parks

Grand Rapids
Fish Ladder Park

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – In honor of Earth Week, the Grand Rapids park department has announced it is expanding a program to protect the Grand River and cut down chemical pollution.

The program is focused on replacing synthetic pesticides and fertilizers with organic products that are healthier for the environment. It is one part of the Parks and Recreation Department’s Strategic Master Plan to do their part to improve the water quality in the Grand River.

The city says it tests the water in the Grand River every year, and the results for the past decade are above quality standards.

“We did hear from a lot of citizens as we started down this path and they were happy that we were going this route. People are looking for safe parks, they are looking for alternatives to those chemicals,” said Steve Krogman, parks supervisor for the city of Grand Rapids. “It kind of just spurred us on to look at different alternatives and make these parks safer for people that are out there.”

The program started two years, thanks to a grant from the Wege Foundation. For 2019 and 2020, they worked on four parks: Heartside Park, Highland Park, Kensington Park and Ted Rasberry Field. This year, they are expanding to Canal Park and Sixth Street Park in downtown Grand Rapids. The end goal is to use organic fertilizers and pesticides in every Grand Rapids park.

“We’re still evaluating the program. We’re seeing good results, we just want to make sure we continue to see that,” Krogman told News 8. “Costwise, we’re seeing that it may be a little more than the synthetic, but it’s not overly priced, it seems fairly comparable.”

He says they are also trying some different tactics with their fields to prevent weeds instead of simply resorting to chemicals, including letting grass grow a little longer and performing more aeration.

“It’s not just the organics, it’s adding a few of these other components to it as well to keep the turf healthy,” Krogman said.

There is no timetable on when a decision could be made, but he says they could have enough data to make a decision later this year.

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