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Community updates: Thursday, Aug. 26

The Rapid begins bus service changes on Aug. 30; Ken-O-Sha Park reopens with improvements; and Festival of the Arts cancels Sept. event over pandemic concerns.
Youth playing around a natural playscape at Ken-O-Sha Park.

Youth playing around a natural playscape at Ken-O-Sha Park. /City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation

The Rapid begins bus service changes on Aug. 30

Bus service changes are coming to The Rapid on Aug. 30, the transit service announced.

The changes include increased service frequency for some routes, a couple route eliminations, renumberings, and more. They are the result of The Rapids’ two-year Mobility for All research project, which looked at Rapid rider patterns and community input in order to improve service overall.

Effective Aug. 30, Routes 2 and 9 and the Silver Line will see expanded service, running every 15 minutes on weekdays from 6am-6pm. Route 28 will do the same from 10am-6pm. Their expansion is in response to The Rapid identifying them as high-demand routes.

Other high-demand routes with expanded service are 4, 11, and 44. Routes 4 and 11 will see 15-minute all-day service on weekdays, with 11 now also serving the Meijer on Plainfield Ave. Route 44 will now be providing Sunday service.

Low-demand routes being eliminated are 3 and 18, the Madison Ave. and Westside areas, respectively. However, most of the stops and portions of these routes will still serviced by The Rapid through the realignment of still-existing routes.

This is a budget-neutral plan,” The Rapid stated on its Mobility for All page. “In order to make improvements on the routes with the highest demand and usage, service on routes with low demand and usage must be decreased or repurposed in other areas. The Rapid understands that these changes will cause disruptions for some customers, and we are.”

For route renumberings, Route 16 will become the new Route 3 and Route 17 the new 27.

The Mobility for All research leading to the changes also included looking at the ridership market and ridership growth opportunities. More details about the research, as well as the full list of changes it produced, are available on The Rapids’ website.


Ken-O-Sha Park reopens with improvements

Ken-O-Sha Park reopened on the southeast side of Grand Rapids last week, with a slew of improvements aimed by the city to increase physical play, educational opportunities, and environmental sustainability.

Located at 1353 Van Auken St., the park spans over 100 acres and is the trailhead for Plaster Creek Trail. Its improvements, announced by the City of Grand Rapids, include a new natural playscape using recycled fallen trees, an outdoor classroom, new green infrastructure and daylighted stormwater, and more.

The cost of improvements for Ken-O-Sha-Park total $586,200, according to the city. Almost three quarters of this cost were provided through the city’s voter-approved 2013 parks millage. The remainder came from grants connected with the National Parks and Recreation Association.

Among other reopening additions are a nature amplifier along Plaster Creek, a screened portable restroom at the Plaster Creek Trail trailhead, new accessible pathways, and educational and wayfinding signage.

“The improvements at Ken-O-Sha Park are a perfect example of combining play, education, and environmental sustainability,” said David Marquardt, the city’s Parks and Recreation Director. “We’re grateful to our funding partners that allowed us to leverage tax dollars to invest even further in this important community space.”

More than two dozen Grand Rapids parks are undergoing or have undergone improvements this yearall the beneficiaries of the city’s 2013 and 2019 parks millages. A full list of this year’s park improvements are available on the Parks Projects page on the city’s website.


Festival of the Arts cancels Sept. event over pandemic concerns

Festival of the Arts, an annual celebration of art, music, and culture in Grand Rapids, announced Wednesday it is canceling its Sept. event due to COVID-19 concerns.

The event, calledPerformance+,” was scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19 at Calder Plaza—opening weekend of ArtPrize 2021. It was organized as the second of two modified 2021 events after 2020’s pandemic-related cancellation.

Organizers for Festival of the Arts cited the rise of COVID-19’s delta variant in West Michigan and its increasing hospitalization and test positivity rates as reasons for the cancellation. They also announced that a traditional Festival event is being planned for next summer, June 3–5, 2022.

“The board of directors made this decision with an abundance of caution while putting our community and team of Festival volunteers first,” said David Abbott, Executive Director of Festival of the Arts. “Everyone is excited to bring Festival of the Arts back in June 2022 in the traditional sense of celebration that Grand Rapids has come to love and enjoy for more than 50 years.”

According to organizers, Festival of the Arts relies on over 1,500 volunteers to create its annual celebration throughout the city. They estimate attendance for its weekend-long event as having been more than 300,000 in past years.

More details about Festival 2022 will be made available through its website.


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