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Free water park an oasis for Grand Rapids neighborhood

The two acre park is a step towards the city’s goalto have every Grand Rapids resident live within ¼ mile of some kind of greenspace. That goal has been difficult to achieve since nearly all of the city’s land has already been developed. Plus, city government has been cutting down on spendingfor years.

13-year old Ashley Jones remembers the old vacant lot where the park is now. She refered to it as a ‘hot mess’ before the renovations.

“It looked crazy. It had the prickles when you walked it would stick on your shoes. There was no shade or nothing. And it was kind of boring.”

Not anymore. Two dozen kids zip through a water tunnel, giggle waiting for the next water spout to pop out of the ground, or the bucket of cool water to splash on their heads.

14-year old Aisha Childrey lives just a few blocks away.

“Not only is it beautiful, it’s a safe environment. Like there’s not any bad gangs or anything around here and I really like seeing kids having a good time and smiling – it just makes my day.”

Water from the splash park will be re-used in the park’s landscape irrigation system.

Steve Faber directs the non-profit group Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

“The real challenge for us not just in Grand Rapids, but state-wide is, how do we support urban parks? Because they are so integral into maintaining and keeping a city vibrant.”

The city teamed up with private donors to create and maintain the new park.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.