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Community updates: Friday, Oct. 22

City of Grand Rapids extends outdoor 'social zones' through Nov. 2022; 10-digit dialing requirement for West Michigan starts Sunday; and Grand Rapids Public Museum seeking support for renovation of Spillman Carousel.
Downtown patrons enjoying carryout drink in a dining social zone.

Downtown patrons enjoying carryout drink in a dining social zone. /Experience Grand Rapids

City of Grand Rapids extends outdoor 'social zones' through Nov. 2022

Grand Rapids’ outdoor dining “social zones” will remain active through Nov. 1, 2022, after city commissioners unanimously approved their extension last week to aid in continued pandemic-related economic recovery.

The zones enable expanded outdoor seating and dining areas for restaurants and bars across seven local business districts, encompassing areas within downtown, the Creston and Eastown neighborhoods, and others. In some zones, businesses are also approved to sell alcohol “to-go” for patrons to carry drinks outside without needing to stay at a single establishment.

The first social zones opened in June 2020, aiming to help restaurants and bars reopening with capacity limits and COVID-related setbacks.

“Despite the restoration to full occupancy, some consumers are wary of indoor public spaces due to health concerns,” said Lou Canfield, Chief of Staff to the City Manager. “This caution may continue through the upcoming winter given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

“For these reasons, the Commission voted unanimously to help support local businesses through the upcoming season amid the ongoing pandemic while also mitigating some consumers’ concerns,” he continued.

According to the City of Grand Rapids, business interview and survey responses compiled by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. showed that social zones were effective in maintaining overall pedestrian traffic at around its 2019 level—despite a 48-percent general decline during the first year of the pandemic.

A full list of dining social zones is available on Experience Grand Rapids’ website.


10-digit dialing requirement for West Michigan starts Sunday

Starting Sunday, telephone users in Michigan’s 616 area code and three others in the state will be required to switch to 10-digit dialing. The move comes as part of the rollout of a new way to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

For callers in the state’s 616, 810, 906, and 989 area codes, calls not including a three-digit area code will not be completed. Instead, a recording may inform them that their call cannot be completed as dialed, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC in July 2020 designated 988 as the abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that provide 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources, and best practices for professionals. The 988 code will become active by July 16, 2022.

The four Michigan area codes affected by the designation already used 988 as the prefix, or first three digits after the area code, of customer telephone numbers. Customers in other Michigan area codes aren't affected by the FCC’s changes at this time.

Until the July 2022 activation of the 988 code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the FCC instructs callers to continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the Lifeline.

More details about the 10-digit dialing requirement are available through the FCC’s website.


Grand Rapids Public Museum seeking support for renovation of Spillman Carousel

The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) is seeking community support for restoration of its nearly 100-year-old carousel, it announced Monday.

The iconic 1928 Spillman Carousel is housed above the Grand River in the museum’s Cook Carousel Pavilion, with renovations begun in 2017. Ongoing upgrades include mechanical and electrical upgrades, installation of 1,200 LED light bulbs, band organ repairs, and steps toward restoring 53 horses and menagerie animals and two chariots.

Closed since Feb. 2020 for these upgrades, financial support has so far come through the Cook Foundation. Now, the GRPM hopes for community support to complete the project through an online fundraising campaign at For every dollar donated, the Cook Foundation will match an additional $2 towards for the project, for donations up to $300,000.

[GRPM] looks forward to welcoming the community back to the carousel when the project completion is at the point where it can be ridden again,” said Kate Kocienski, GRPM Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations. “As work continues on the carousel over the coming months, we encourage the community to follow the progress through our website and social media pages.”

When the carousel reopens, it will be equipped with bilingual signage and instructional recordings, as well as additional communication features for those who are blind, low-vision, deaf, or hard of hearing. Other updates planned by the GRPM are the creation and opening of a wheelchair accessible chariot in 2023, and the integration of a ramp incline for access.

The Spillman Carousel was manufactured by Spillman Engineering of North Tonawanda, NY in 1928. According to the GRPM, it is one of only three of its style ever produced.

More details about the carousel’s restoration are available on the GRPM’s website.


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