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City officials appoint members to Grand River Restoration Steering Committee

The Grand River Restoration Steering Committee, just recently established by the City, is aimed at guiding the development of the Grand River restoration process.

Grand River Restoration Steering Committee members

• Patty Birkholz, West Michigan Director, Michigan League of Conservation Voters and West Michigan Environmental Leadership Network 

• Steve Faber, Executive Director, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

• Ryan Huppert, Principal, Grand Rapids Public Schools

• George Heartwell, Mayor, City of Grand Rapids

• John Helmholdt, Executive Director of Communications & External Affairs, Grand Rapids Public Schools

• Scott Hicks, Field Office Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

• Rachel Hood, Executive Director, West Michigan Environmental Action Council

• Joe Jones, President and CEO, Grand Rapids Urban League

• Fred Keller, Founder and CEO, Cascade Engineering

• Kris Larson, President and CEO, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.

• Megan Lemmen, Student

• James Moyer, Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning, Grand Valley State University

• Chris Muller, Co-Founder, Grand Rapids Whitewater

• Veronica Ramirez Garcia, Executive Director, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

• Larry Romanelli, Ogema (Chief), Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

• Rodney Stokes, Special Advisor, Office of Governor Rick Snyder

• Greg Sundstrom, City Manager, City of Grand Rapids

• Mary Swanson, Assistant Administrator, Kent County

• Jim Talen, County Commissioner, Kent County

• Rick Treur, City of Grand Rapids Planning Commission

• Jerry Tubergen, President and CEO, RDV Corporation

• Kristian Williams, Resource Conservationist, U.S. Natural Resources 

On Tuesday, March 25 City of Grand Rapids Officials established the Grand River Restoration Steering Committee as part of the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan to restore the Grand River and encourage responsible development along its banks.

"The work of this Committee aims to leave a legacy for future generations," says Suzanne Schulz, Grand Rapids Managing Director of Design, Development and Community Engagement. "Their efforts, combined with that of many others, may lead to a resurgence of the sturgeon population and the creation of world-class rowing, fishing and kayaking opportunities. Land development and economic investment along the river's banks and in the region could result as well."

The Steering Committee will meet quarterly to guide the restoration process of the Grand River and riverbank development.

"Creation of this steering committee is the next step in what will be a deliberate design and investment process,” says Mayor George Heartwell. “Collaboration is the foundation of our work, and this effort truly represents a multi-sector approach that has the potential to fundamentally alter the way we understand and interact with our Grand River.”

The committee represents members from key sectors of the Grand Rapids community including, business leaders environmental organizations, and community groups. It also includes representatives from local, state, tribal and federal governments. One of the committee's goals is to maintain communication between the many studies and initiatives being conducted by multiple organizations and ensure that all areas of the river development are taken into consideration. 

"WMEAC (West Michigan Environmental Action Council) is excited to be a part of the steering committee, and we are excited to bring more people in contact with one of our cities greatest natural resource in an environmentally positive way," says Josh Leffingwell, Communications Director at WMEAC.

The Steering Committee will provide advice and guidance regarding the funding, development and maintenance of any construction efforts or projects associated with the Grand River to the City Commission. The City Commission is responsible for approving public investments and permit applications to modify the river or its banks.

A River Corridor Plan Committee will be appointed next month to manage the community planning and engagement process for the development of the Grand River's banks from Lamoreaux to Millennium Park.  

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