Grand River project is a game-changer for Grand Rapids

By Jim Hegarty

Last Friday, I got updates on the massive Grand River restoration project in Grand Rapids at two events.

At the first event, sponsored by the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW), I saw a graphic of the project, which proposes to restore the Grand River’s 18-ft drop as it winds its way through the center of Grand Rapids. To me, the most impressive part of this project is the proposal to create public walking, viewing and resting spaces on both sides of the river for nearly two miles. The economic and quality of life impact of opening the riverfront to the public is impressive, and the task of doing so, once daunting, is now inching its way forward to reality.

At a charity dinner Friday evening, I spoke with Grand Rapids Mayor George Hartwell, who gushed about the project’s potential and filled me in on some of its progress and challenges. Recently term-limited, Mayor Hartwell said that he expects to see construction action begin in 2017. That’s a promise his successor will have to keep!

If you’ve ever been to ArtPrize, you’ve seen the crowds downtown. Now, imagine them along the riverbanks. It’ll be something to see and an amazingly positive development in Grand Rapids.

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