GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Like so many neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, the West Side is looking different these days.

Storefronts are getting facelifts and much-needed housing is being built on the floors above. Watching it all is West Grand Neighborhood Association Executive Director Annette Vandenberg.

“There’s only so much land and a lot of needs to be fulfilled. Like 35,000 housing units,” said Vandenberg. “Look up and down, you see construction everywhere.”

It’s all about keeping the neighborhood vital now and in the future.

“You want to make sure we keep the people that are already here because they have talents and they have great ideas. We don’t want to lose those things,” she said.

That’s the idea behind the latest rewrite of the City of Grand Rapids Master Plan, and the community’s role in that process.

The master plan is a set of guidelines, or a roadmap of how the city will look in the future. Last updated in 2002, the master plan looks at the next 20 years in Grand Rapids.

Things like housing availability, traffic patterns, transportation needs, neighborhood needs and development are in the plan. As part of this latest rewrite, Grand Rapids is reaching out to the community for input — not just with public hearings but also with a more robust engagement session for sharing ideas.

The next session is set for May 18.

“We’re trying to establish this long-range vision for our community. But it needs to be a vision that meets everybody’s needs,” said Grand Rapids Planning Director Kristin Turkelson.

If we don’t hear from people and understand what those needs are, those desires are, then it’s really difficult for us to write a plan that meets those needs and wants,” she added.

For Vandenberg, it’s all about the future.

“My grandson just turned five and he lives here on the West Side,” said Vandenberg. “So anything I do today is going to impact him 20 years from now. “

The session set for May 18 will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30pm at the GRPS University building on Fuller Avenue.