GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Kentwood has seen a lot of growth over the years and city leaders have been pouring resources into planning the next 50 years of community growth.

Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley said that in 2017, when the city celebrated its 50th anniversary, leaders asked what the next 50 years would look like. To answer that question, they sent out resident surveys, met in small groups, did committee work and found that the No. 1 desire was for community event spaces.

“We don’t have a typical downtown but what we had been doing for the past ten years is having concert series in a field next to city hall. Which works but we can do better,” said Kepley.

In 2017, Kepley said the city bought a property it thought would be a great space for a community center.

“We’re looking at something between 45,000 and 50,000 square feet. Gym space, places to walk during the winter months, we’re also talking about the possibility of an indoor splash pad,” Kepley said. “We’re trying to create some indoor spaces that can be enjoyed year-round.”

Another big focus would be improving Kentwood’s public parks. Kepley said the city hopes to make park trails better, connecting them.

“We got an issue with (I-96), it splits Kentwood. So we want to put, actually, a pedestrian bridge over 96 to join the north part of Kentwood with the south part,” he explained.

The improvements will be paid for by a $1 million millage voters passed in August to pay for capital improvements. The city hopes to combine that money with savings from the last decade and federal funds.

“We’re also looking for federal and state grants. So we want to leverage those tax dollars from the millage to get those federal dollars, those state dollars and also ask for private donations to make this all work,” said Kepley.