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Community updates: Friday, June 5

City of Grand Rapids reopening park amenities and city buildings with restrictions, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. resuming Pop Up Performer program, and Gov. Whitmer announces Michigan police reform plans.
Skies over Grand Rapids.

Skies over Grand Rapids. /Rachael Voorhees

City of Grand Rapids reopening park amenities, city buildings on June 8

The City of Grand Rapids will reopen its splash pads, other park amenities, and city buildings on Monday, it announced. The reopenings are part of phase one of the city’s reentry plan, following Gov. Whitmer’s moving of Michigan to phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan.

In addition to the city’s 14 splash pads, reopenings include basketball courts, bike polo courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, disc golf courses, soccer fields, and skateboarding features. Also reopening are picnic shelters, grills, playgrounds, and exercise equipment.

Starting June 12, shelter reservations will resume for gatherings of 100 people or fewer.

We are pleased to be able to reopen our splash pads and many of our athletic amenities,” said David Marquardt, the city’s Parks and Recreation Director. “We encourage residents to enjoy our 14 splash pads – with safe physical distancing – to help stay cool this summer.” Amenity-goers not of the same household will be required to maintain physical distancing of six feet.

Remaining closed until further notice are enclosed shelters, community gyms, restrooms, and drinking fountains. Closed for the rest of the 2020 season are outdoor pools at Briggs Park, Martin Luther King Park, and Richmond Park.

We are disappointed that we cannot open our pools this summer. This decision was not made lightly,” Marquardt said. “The health and safety of our residents and the employees that staff our pools is of highest priority. The continued CDC guidance on physical distancing and avoiding common touch point surfaces is particularly challenging in a pool setting.”

City buildings reopening for walk-in service include the 311 Customer Service Center and the Income Tax Department. Six-feet physical distancing guidelines will be required.

More details about the city’s phased reopenings are available on the City of Grand Rapids’ website.


Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. accepting Pop Up Performer applications

Busking in downtown Grand Rapids is still a go this summer: Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) announced it’s now accepting applications for pop-up performers.

DGRI’s Pop Up Performer program aims to drive more vitality downtown by creating entertaining experiences for passersby on the city’s sidewalks, patios, and other public spaces. During a summer when downtown businesses are financially reeling from months-long closures due to COVID-19, the performances may bring them an indirect boost in customers and revenue – with physical distancing accommodations in mind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a high degree of stress and uncertainty into our homes, businesses, and minds on an unprecedented scale,” DGRI said on its website. “Now more than ever, it is vital to bring vibrancy, whimsy, and positivity back into the public realm.”

Busking performances range widely in entertainment styles – from music to dance, acrobatics, magicians, live painting, and more.

Details about DGRI’s application process for pop-up performers are available on its website.


Gov. Whitmer announces Michigan police reform plans

Responding to nationwide unrest over racially-based police brutality, Whitmer announced plans for statewide police reform to promote racial equity.

Among the actions the governor is taking are requesting the Michigan Commission of Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) provide guidance to law enforcement agencies on educating officers on new laws and issues facing Michigan communities, including diversity and implicit bias training.

Other actions include urging law enforcement agencies to comprehensively report on the use of force by police departments, urging police departments to implement duty-to-intervene policies, and requesting the Michigan Legislature to take up Senate Bill 945. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin, SB 945 would require law enforcement officers to go through training on implicit bias, de-escalation techniques, and mental health screenings.

“The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor were a result of hundreds of years of inequity and institutional racism against Black Americans,” said Whitmer. “Here in Michigan, we are taking action and working together to address the inequities Black Michiganders face every day.”

“That’s why I'm calling on Michigan police departments to strengthen their training and policies to save lives and keep people safe. I am also ready to partner with the Michigan Legislature and law enforcement officials to pass police reform bills into law.”

More details about Whitmer’s police reform plans are available in a statement on her official website.


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