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Highlight: Grand Rapids 311

posted Apr 21, 2015, 9:14 PM by mail @westgrand.org   [ updated Apr 21, 2015, 10:08 PM ]

Want an easy way to report issues around our neighborhood? There are many ways to report them.  



311 makes it possible for anyone with an phone, iPhone or Android Smartphone, internet access to report pot holes, graffiti, street light problems, and a wide range of other issues from anywhere in the City’s service area. 

Reports are submitted directly into the City’s Citizen Request Management systems and integrate with the operations work management solutions – giving city workers the information they need to fix the problem quickly. Citizens who make a report using the mobile app and website receive a ticket number allowing them to track progress and receive notice when the reported matter is resolved.

Grand Rapids has had great success with web-based solutions. City residents take great pride in area neighborhoods and businesses. 311 empowers the Grand Rapids’ community to become the eyes and ears of the city.



What is the difference between 311 and 911?

311 is the number to call to obtain information and access to all non-emergency City government services (or dial 616-456-3000 if unable to reach the City by dialing 311). 911 is the number to call in case of emergency (burning house, robbery, crime in progress).

Police non-emergency (616-456-3400) is the number to call for information related to obtaining copies of accident or incident reports, background checks, residential alarm permits, copies of reports, identity theft or any issue that is Police non-emergency that may require an officer to be dispatched.

What can I report using 311?


You can use 311 to report many different issues, including but not limited to:
  • Pot holes
  • Broken or Street or traffic lights
  • Abandoned Vehicles
  • Graffiti
  • Pollution
  • Sidewalks (during the winter, snow removal)
  • Missed refuse or recycling pick up
  • Illegal dumping
  • Clogged catch basins
  • and More!
What are the different ways I can report an Issue?

To report a pot hole, streetlight, housing , please contact the City by dialing 311, use the City’s 311 mobile application, to make a report on their website visit http://grand-rapids.spotreporters.com/.

The application can be downloaded from the Android Market Place and the iPhone App Store. Click the buttons below to download. (You must be on an android phone for the Android link to work.)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=us.grcity.gr311&hl=en
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/grand-rapids-311/id407721630?mt=8

West Grand Neighborhood Organization loves the City's 311 mobile application because anyone can report issues with their cell phones and even include pictures. The pictures help the city see what you are seeing and help them find them! 


How do I make a report?

Phone:  
To make a report by phone, dial 311
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is closed on weekends and holidays. The service center will direct you to the services you need.

Mobile App: To start using the app, download it from the links provided below on your phone. When finished downloading you just click on the app to open it, from there you will see a list. We suggest first going to the button labeled "Reporter" so you can enter in your information, It will ask for name, email and phone number (this is so the city can contact you about your report if they need to), this information IS NOT public. It is only for the city to contact you IF they need additional information. The likely hood is very slim however. After entering in your "Reporter" information hit "Save." It will take you back to the main screen and you are ready to make your report. To make open a report/ticket touch "New Report" and follow the instructions below.

Website: Go to the link for the website and follow the instructions below as they are slightly different than the mobile version.

Choose Service or Select A Service: 
Choose what type of report you are making by clicking Pothole, Streetlight, Graffiti or Other. 
There may not be a category for the issue you are trying to report, if that is the case list it as "Other." 

Location: 
When using the mobile app on your phone it uses GPS to locate the location of the complaint, meaning it will pinpoint on the map where you are located while making the report. If you are not near the place you are reporting, you have to move the pinpoint on the map to the address/or approximate address you are reporting. We suggest double checking the address before you submit it via the mobile app to make sure you are reporting the correct one!

The website allows you to enter the address manually into the form. The more accurate the address the more likely the city will be able to locate it!

Add a picture: If you have the ability to add a picture to the report, we cannot stress enough about how helpful this is to the city in order for them to locate the issue for the ticket you opened. Choose "Upload" or "Choose File" and select the picture from your phone or computer to upload it.

Description: On the mobile app you only have so much room to make the report, so be sure to be straight to the issue with your report by listing key and identifying facts. An example of a description that is helpful to the city is - Ford Escort, black w/no license plate. 4-door, early to mid 1990's. Abandoned for a month. Parked on (street name) in front of (color) house.

Share with Public: It will ask if you want to share the report with the public so they can see if something has already been reported. If you choose "share with public" this means people can see your report, however they cannot see your name or contact information. ONLY THE CITY gets that information for follow up purposes if they need to contact you.

Contact: Enter in your contact information in case the city needs to follow up with you about your report. This information is not shared with the public. You can submit a report anonymously if you do not fill out the Contact information, but the city will not be able to contact you for additional information about your report if they need it.

NOTE: Double check your report before you hit "Submit." Always make sure all information is correct before you submit it so your report/ticket can go from open closed in a timely manner. The more accurate it is, the less time it takes for the city to resolve the issue!

Submit: Click the button to submit your report.

The great thing about 311 is that if you have made a report, you can check on the status of the report to see if it has been closed. In the mobile app this can be be done by going onto the app and choosing "My Reports" and you will see all reports you have made and their status. On the website you choose "View Reports" and search for your report.


Note for Potholes​


Spring 2015: Public Services crews are working throughout the City filling pot holes as quickly as possible.  Because suppliers are not making hot asphalt yet, the material that Grand Rapids is using now is a recycled mix that is not made the same as regular asphalt that it uses in the late spring and summer. DPS uses this recycled mix to fill the deeper holes and “tire busters” to get the City through the early spring until the asphalt plants open. This “recycled mix” typically does not stay in shallower holes and if any moisture comes in contact with it, it tends to crumble and pop back out of the holes. Grand Rapids is responding to every complaint made to 311 and some are just rough road patches that it has on its radar that will be repaired as soon as the proper material is available.

For additional information on 311 and frequently asked questions, go to: 
  
Para obtener información adicional sobre los 311 y Preguntas más frecuentes en español , visite:
 
http://311.grcity.us/faqespanol

NOTE:  All information for this post was compiled from personal experience of the administrator of the WGNO website and from the city website to help walk users through the process.

7th Annual Westside Community Cleanup

posted Apr 18, 2015, 11:00 PM by mail @westgrand.org   [ updated Apr 28, 2015, 7:53 AM ]

Did you know that last year the Westside Community Cleanup had 50 sponsors and 200 volunteers? 
12,100 lbs of trash and recyclables were picked up and we had a $25,000 economic impact!
Sign up today to RSVP for this FREE event! 

Get down and dirty with your neighbors! Join us on Saturday, May 2nd for the 7th Annual Westside Community Cleanup! There will be a lunch and great swag after the clean up for all volunteers! All ages welcome. You will be walking around outside so dress for success! Tennis shoes or closed toed shoes recommended. Don't forget a rain jacket if the weather is crummy. All ages are welcome!

Schedule:
8:30 am - Arrive at St.Mary's for check-in and instructions
9:00 am - 12:30 pm - Clean up!
12:30 pm to 2:00 pm - Lunch! Location TBD 

Lunch is being provided by Brann's Steakhouse & Grille and beer is being provided by Harmony Brewing Company. There will also be music performed!

The event has some amazing and generous sponsors this year to help make this event better and more far reaching than ever! Including Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.Rockford ConstructionOpen Systems Technologies, Inc.Swift Printing & Communications, West Grand Neighborhood OrganizationExperience Grand RapidsAlliance Beverage, Chuck Gallagher Realty, Brann's Steakhouse & GrillCatalyst Partners, Harmony Brewing Company, Mike & Jamie Lamonoco... and many more!

You must RSVP to this event in order for us to get an accurate count! It is free to sign up for tickets on Eventbrite (Groups and businesses can sign up by putting in the number of people that are attending with them): http://www.eventbrite.com/e/7th-annual-grand-rapids-westside-cleanup-tickets-16095519131]
After signing up on Eventbrite, check out our event on Facebook and click "Join" so you can get updates and reminders of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/928878843810266/

Lastly, we have received an email from the organizers of this event and they need your help!! Please see the message below:

"Hi all,

 

For some of you this may be the first e-mail you have received about the 2015 Westside Community Clean-up, for others it’s not. Things are in high gear of planning this event coming up on May 2nd. We wanted to let everyone on this thread know that we need your help in getting the word out. Attached is our post card flyer with the Eventbrite website address on it to register. We want to encourage everyone to register so we can get an approximate head count. This is important for planning out how large of an area we can clean and for food planning.

 

We do have a few “asks” that we are hoping you can help us out with. If you can help or know anyone that can help with the below asks please have them contact myself Brian Van Ee at bigbri2775@yahoo.com or our project manager, Leigh Rapaport at leighrapaport@gmail.com.

 

1.      Due to the number of volunteers that we are anticipating this year we split the Westside into eight zones. See attached preliminary map. We need at least eight team captains to oversee and organize how best to clean each zone. Each captain will have a walkie talkie to communicate with the main coordinator at ground zero. He/she will be responsible to organize the most efficient way to clean his zone with the number of volunteers for his/her area. We plan on have volunteers in teams of 10. Each zone will have roughly 5 groups of 10. Some zones are larger than others so these numbers may change.

2.      We need approximately 20 pick up trucks and or trailers to transport bags of trash from the street curbs (where volunteers will place them when they are full) to two large dumpsters located on Broadway St. One in the Union Square Condos parking lot and one in American Seating parking lot. With each vehicle it would be nice to have three volunteers, including the driver to transfer the bags from the street to the trucks, and then the trucks to the dumpsters.

3.      Buses – We really need to acquire about ten, 15 passenger buses to transport volunteers from St. Mary’s church to the furthest outer zones. During the three hour period of clean up they will also move volunteers around as needed. If you know anyone or any organization that could help us out please let us know.

 

We have also been asked in the past that if there are volunteers that can’t do the hard physical work can they still help. The answer to this questions is absolutely.  We need help with registration, handing out gloves, vests, name tags, granola bars, bottled water, etc. Everyone is invited, young and old alike. We are thrilled this year that we have our first ever street band for our after party at St. Mary’s church. If you would like flyers to hang up in your businesses or hand out to friends let us know. If you have gift certificates that you would like to donate for our after party give-a-ways please have those to us by this coming Wednesday. We also have four large banners that could be used anywhere on the Westside that you would like to hang them.

 

Thank you for supporting this great community event!

 

Brian and Erica Van Ee"



Westside Community Cleanup Zone Map



West Grand Spring Break Survival Guide for Adults

posted Apr 3, 2015, 3:36 PM by mail @westgrand.org   [ updated Apr 3, 2015, 6:14 PM ]


Below is a list of activities and events for Adults during the Easter weekend and Spring Break that are open to the public.
Details are listed with the events including if there is a cost. 
If you know of any events happening locally that are more adult oriented, let us know so we can add them to this list.

West Side Events:

April 4

Playback Improv at Story Café 7:00 pm
Personal stories told by audience members are played back by actors and musicians.
Address: 444 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

April 9

Bee-ard Pageant at The Mitten Brewing Company 7:00 pm
Prepare to bee entranced by the masterful wordplay of Rick Chyme, rapper extraordinaire and bearded wonder! Drink of the nectar of Mitten Brewery's small batch honey brew, crafted by Alex. Bee immortalized in an heirloom-quality tintype portrait, should you dare to step inside Victor Vague's time-traveling photo studio. Bee delighted by the honeybee art raffle, and make your mark with hive box graffiti. The event is a fun-raising fundraiser to create a community apiary/garden onsite at the Well House garden, and bring the love of bees and beekeeping into the city. If you want to be in the contest, both ladies and gents are welcome. See the event link below for information on how to enter.
Event on Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1560345044250825/
Address: 

April 12

Ellis & Jonny Carroll Live at Story Café 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Free show! For one hour only, come see Ellis as they debut the Grand Rapids music scene & Jonny Carroll as he returns from his UK tour -- You won't want to miss this!
Address: 444 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504


Week of April 6-10th Events or Specials

Wengers Bowling Spring Break Special 11:00 am - 4:00 pm from April 6th-10th
Games are $1, shoe rental is $1, pizza is $1 and pop is $1 during these days/times.
Address: 629 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504



Other Great Options in Our Area:


April 4

GRKids Deal Night: Griffins Hockey Game

GRKids.com and the Grand Rapids Griffins are teaming up one last time this season to offer out a special Spring Break discout for all the GRKids.com families! Through this special offer, GRKids.com families can save $5 off the day of game price plus, pay no service fees!

April 7

Free Tuesdays at the Grand Rapids Art Museum 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Meijer Free Tuesdays mean free general admission to GRAM all day (10am-5pm), and reduced admission to special exhibitions.
Address: 101 Monroe Center NW Grand Rapids, MI 49503

April 9

Free Thursday Nights at the Grand Rapids Art Museum 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Free general admission to GRAM (5pm-9pm). Underwritten by Meijer.
Address: 101 Monroe Center NW Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge with The Rapid
April 9 is Stand Up 4 Transportation Day (SU4T). Public transportation supporters across the nation are uniting in their communities and online to send a powerful message to Congress: It’s time to provide long-term investment for America’s transportation network. We’re inviting you to join us in celebrating public transportation’s progress in our community and learn more about what could be coming next. Explore the future Laker Line route by taking our Stand Up 4 Transportation Photo Challenge. Prizes are an iPad Mini 3, $50 Meijer gift card, and a $25 Meijer gift card. To learn details and how to participate, go to the link for the event on Facebook below.

Week of April 6-10th Events or Specials

Lunch Time Open Skate at Griff's Ice House. Monday-Friday 11:30 am - 12:50 pm
Lunch open skate admission is $3 all ages - $2 skate rental. Punch Cards available (10 punches) $24 for the Lunch skate. Lunch Time Open skates occur all year long.
Check out their website for addition information: http://www.griffinshockey.com/community/icehouse/
Address: 30 Coldbrook St.NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503

WGNO Spring Break Survival Guide for Families

posted Apr 3, 2015, 1:26 PM by mail @westgrand.org   [ updated Apr 3, 2015, 11:20 PM ]


Below is a list of activities and events for families during the Easter weekend and Spring Break that are open to the public.
Details are listed with the events including if there is a cost. 
If you know of any events happening locally that are family friendly, let us know so we can add them to this list.

West Side Events:

April 4

John Ball Park Easter Egg Hunt 2015 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Address: 1300 Fulton St. W Grand Rapids, MI 49504

April 8

Pre-Reading Classes for Toddlers at the West Leonard Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library 11:00 am - 11:30 am
Parents and caregivers are invited to bring their energetic toddlers, ages 18 months to 3 years, to 30-minute classes featuring hands-on, literacy-rich activities including stories, songs with fingerplays and other action, and sign language. Toddlers will develop pre-reading skills as they make connections between words and movement and have fun with related crafts and socialize during playtime.
Address: 1017 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

EatPlayGrow at the West Leonard Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
EatPlayGrow combines the latest science and research to teach children ages 2-5 and their parents how to make healthy nutrition and physical activity choices. Join GRPL and Cherry Health for interactive and engaging lessons that incorporate art-making, storytelling, music and movement activities into fun, hands-on educational lessons about the importance of making positive choices in areas that most affect health: nutrition, physical activity, and, based on emerging medical research, sleep.
Address: 1017 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504



Week of April 3-12th Events or Specials

Books in Bloom: A Spring Break Activity for Kids at the West Leonard Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library April 4 - April 12
Families can stop by any GRPL location for a cool drop-in art activity. Budding designers will experiment with making patterns using paint bottles (fun for grown-ups too!). While you are at the library, get fun suggestions for spring-themed books to read during the week.
Address: 1017 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Wengers Bowling Spring Break Special 11:00 am - 4:00 pm from April 6th-10th
Games are $1, shoe rental is $1, pizza is $1 and pop is $1 during these days/times.
Address: 629 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Zoobilee at John Ball Zoo 10:00 am - 4:00 pm from April 6th-10th
The zoo goes wild during spring break and so do the animals! Daily shows, see the animals get special treats.
Address: 1300 Fulton St. W Grand Rapids, MI 49504




Other Great Options in Our Area:


April 4

GRKids Deal Night: Griffins Hockey Game

GRKids.com and the Grand Rapids Griffins are teaming up one last time this season to offer out a special Spring Break discout for all the GRKids.com families! Through this special offer, GRKids.com families can save $5 off the day of game price plus, pay no service fees!

WMEAC Rain Barrel Workshop at Flowerland on Alpine 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
WMEAC provides low-cost Rain Barrel Workshops that send families and individuals home with their very own rain barrel created in the workshop. With hundreds of 55-gallon rain barrels donated by Michigan’s DeWitt Barrels, the workshops include everything participants need for set up along with education on the importance of managing the storm water that runs off their roof. You must register to join the workshop at the website below:
Address: 3801 Alpine Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49321

April 7

Whitecaps Grand Slam Event
 
at Rosa Parks Circle 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Head over to Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids on Tuesday. April 7, 11:30am-1:30pm for the Grand Slam Event with MLive.com! Come play mini-games, win prizes, and get a free ballpark lunch at Rosa Parks Circle.
Address:

April 9

Family Night at the Grand Rapids Childrens Museum 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday evening is Family Night with $1.50 admission per person, ages 1 year and above.
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/playatgrcm
Website: http://www.grcm.org/
Address: 11 Sheldon Ave. NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Week of April 3-12th Events or Specials

Flick's Family Film Fest at Celebration Cinemas. Show times will vary depending on location and are available the Tuesday night before the showing.
FREE for children 12 and under and only $5.00 for adults. Showing:
  • "Big Hero 6" April 3-9
  • "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" April 10-16
Check out their webpage for locations, times and tickets: https://celebrationcinema.com/flicksfamilyfilmfest


Lunch Time Open Skate at Griff's Ice House. Monday-Friday 11:30 am - 12:50 pm
Lunch open skate admission is $3 all ages - $2 skate rental. Punch Cards available (10 punches) $24 for the Lunch skate. Lunch Time Open skates occur all year long.
Check out their website for addition information: http://www.griffinshockey.com/community/icehouse/
Address: 30 Coldbrook St.NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Spring Break at Grand Rapids Public Museum Monday-Saturday 11:00 am - 3:00 pm April 6 - April 11
See the “Real Pirates” and “Through the Eyes of Weidenaar” exhibits. Plus extra planetarium shows and activities all week. PIRATE LATE NIGHTS! The Museum is open late during Spring Break! See Real Pirates late these during these special evenings: April 6-10  – Open until 8:00 pm
Address: 272 Pearl St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504



Easter Weekend Religious Services:


April 3

Good Friday at the Basilica of Saint Adalbert & St. James Church
Stations of the Cross at Noon, Basilica of Saint Adalbert; 2:00 p.m. Celebration of the Lord’s Passion; and 2:00 p.m. St. James Church
Address for the Basilica of Saint Adalbert: 654 Davis Ave. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Address for St. James Church: 
733 Bridge NW Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504

Good Friday at St. Anthony of Padua
12:30 pm outdoor Stations of the Cross (Bad weather permitting, bad weather gather in gym); 1:30 pm Good Friday Liturgy with reading of the Passion, veneration of the Cross & Holy Communion.
Address: 2510 Richmond St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

April 4

Triduum: The Great Easter Vigil at St. Mary's Catholic Church 8:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Address: 423 1st St NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504

Holy Saturday at the Basilica of Saint Adalbert & St. James Church
11:00 am Blessing of Easter Foods, Basilica of Saint Adalbert; 8:30 pm Easter Vigil, Basilica of Saint Adalbert
Address for the Basilica of Saint Adalbert: 654 Davis Ave. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Address for St. James Church: 
733 Bridge NW Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504

Holy Saturday at St. Anthony of Padua
1 pm Polish blessing of Easter Baskets; 7 pm pm Easter Vigil (no 4:30 pm mass).
Address: 2510 Richmond St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

April 5

Triduum: Easter Sunday Liturgy at St. Mary's Catholic Church 9:30 am - 10:30 am
Address: 423 1st St NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504

Easter Sunday of the Lord's Resurrection at Basilica of Saint Adalbert
9:00 a.m. Mass at St. James Church; 10:30 a.m. Basilica of St. Adalbert
Address for the Basilica of Saint Adalbert: 654 Davis Ave. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Address for St. James Church: 
733 Bridge NW Grand Rapids, Michigan 49504

Easter Sunday at St. Anthony of Padua
Masses at 7:30 am, 9:00 am and 11:30 am.
Address: 2510 Richmond St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Easter Day Service at Seventh Reformed Church
9:45 am.
Address: 950 Leonard St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Resurrection Celebration at New Vintage Bible Church
9:00 am & 10:45 am with Kids House at 10:45.
Address: 889 Broadway Ave. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504




Mystery at Firehouse #9: A Mystery Dinner

posted Apr 2, 2015, 9:45 PM by mail @westgrand.org



Come celebrate West Grand Neighborhood Organization's 40th Anniversary! Investigate the mysterious origins of footprints and vanishing silhouettes linked to the death of a firefighter in 1944. Enjoy a night of dining and drinks with dinner provided by The Mitten Brewing Company.


Tickets are $55/person or $100 for a couple.

Tickets can be purchased at:
West Grand Neighborhood Organization 
415 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: (616) 451-0150
Website: http://www.westgrand.org/


Tickets are limited, so get yours today!


To get updates and Event reminders please "Join" our event page on Facebook: Mystery at Fire House No. 9: A Mystery Dinner


Let us know if you plan on attending by Clicking "Join" and then list if you are "Going, Maybe or Not Going" and then Share it or Invite your friends and neighbors. To share, click "Invite" and choose "Share Event" to share it on your timeline or click "Choose Friends" and choose which friends you would like to invite to the event that may be interested in coming!


With your help we can make this a successful event!

"OnBase with GRPD" Inaugural Youth Baseball League to Begin

posted Apr 1, 2015, 10:36 AM by mail @westgrand.org

A media release by the Grand Rapids Police Department about a new program for our cities youth:



West Side Business Districts 1st Annual Meeting

posted Mar 10, 2015, 7:33 AM by mail @westgrand.org   [ updated Mar 10, 2015, 7:38 AM ]

To get updates and Event reminders please "Join" our event page on Facebook at:

Let us know if you plan on attending by Clicking "Join" and then list if you are "Going, Maybe or Not Going" and then Share it or Invite your friends and neighbors. With your help we can make this a successful event!

1st Annual West Grand Hatfields & McCoys Family Fun Day

posted Feb 13, 2015, 7:08 AM by mail @westgrand.org   [ updated Feb 13, 2015, 7:24 AM ]


To get updates and Event reminders please "Join" our event page on Facebook at:

Let us know if you plan on attending by Clicking "Join" and then list if you are "Going, Maybe or Not Going" and then Share it or Invite your friends and neighbors. With your help we can make this a successful event!

For more information contact West Grand Neighborhood Organization.

West Grand Neighborhood Organization

415 Leonard Street

Grand Rapids MI 49504

Telephone: 616.451.0150

Fax: 616.451.3856


The Downtown and River Action Plan

posted Dec 4, 2014, 7:35 PM by mail @westgrand.org   [ updated Dec 5, 2014, 4:08 PM ]

Did you know that the Grand River is the longest river in Michigan and is approximately 252 miles long?
The Grand River runs from Hillsdale County to Lake Michigan at Grand Haven.

Grand river

Ever wonder what our river looked like a century ago, or even before the settlers came? 

While we do not know exactly what it looked like more than a century ago, we do know that it was a white water river and there are some earlier descriptions of it that exist in text. A description found by MLive writer Jim Harger that he published in an article (printed Sept. 17, 2012 Before downtown dams. Grand River was 'our Garden of Eden,' says Native American leader) on the site goes on to say: 

“These rapids are about a mile in extent and 300 yards wide and must have at least a 10-foot fall, some think 15,” said an 1826 article about the river that appeared in the National Intelligencer.

“They are crowded with huge round rocks, among which the water roars and foams with great fury.”

Another writer had this to say about the rapids: “The total (fall) amounted to about 18 feet, or sufficient to give a decided turbulent and wild appearance to the waters, and to make a noise that broke the stillness of the forest and echoed from neighboring hills.”

Native American who settled along the river before the arrival of the French and the British called the river O-wash-ta-nong, which means Far-away-water due to it's length.

Why did it change so much and what happened to the rapids that the name of our city suggests?

By the mid-19th century the settlers began to tame the river. There were 4 islands that eventually disappeared due to the progression of the city!

The Rev. John Booth sketched the village of Grand Rapids in 1831, looking northwest from what would be the heart of downtown. The three buildings on the far right are city founder Louis Campau's cabin, a trading post and a blacksmith shop, located about the site of today's Civic Auditorium and the Windquest Building. Across the river is Rev. Leonard McCoy's Baptist mission, the Thomas Mission Station. In the foreground is the camp of Ottawa Indian chief Qua-ke-zik, or "Noonday," one of McCoy's converts. A series of quick treaties negotiated between 1821 and 1836 by then Michigan territorial governor Lewis Cass had whittled away Indian lands and opened then up to Michigan settlers at $1.25 per acre. (Courtesy | Grand Rapids Public Library). Used in an article on MLive: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/12/feud_between_grand_rapids_foun.html

The Rev. John Booth sketched the village of Grand Rapids in 1831, looking northwest from what would be the heart of downtown. The three buildings on the far right are city founder Louis Campau's cabin, a trading post and a blacksmith shop, located about the site of today's Civic Auditorium and the Windquest Building. Across the river is Rev. Leonard McCoy's Baptist mission, the Thomas Mission Station. In the foreground is the camp of Ottawa Indian chief Qua-ke-zik, or "Noonday," one of McCoy's converts. A series of quick treaties negotiated between 1821 and 1836 by then Michigan territorial governor Lewis Cass had whittled away Indian lands and opened then up to Michigan settlers at $1.25 per acre. (Courtesy | Grand Rapids Public Library and was used in an MLive story at the following link: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/12/feud_between_grand_rapids_foun.html


It is interesting to note that in July of 1913 an article was written in Grand Rapids Progress about how our historic rapids had by then almost disappeared from view due to power canals that were installed on either side of the river to carry it through factories. In July of 1913 there was also a meeting between 100 people in Grand Rapids who had wanted to dig the Grand River deeper and make it a "lake port" of Lake Michigan, that by December of 1914 it was declared inadvisable.

Low head dams:
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) website there are a total of five low head dams on the grand river which hide our historic rapids and prohibit many uses of the river. Low head dams can be very dangerous and the 6th St. dam has had at least a fatality a year according to the DNR.

The Grand Rapids Fish Ladder (according to the Michigan DNR website):
The first fish ladder on the Grand River was completed in 1975 in Grand Rapids at the 6th Street dam to allow fish to make it over the low head dam. "The Sixth Street dam near downtown Grand Rapids prevents migratory fish such as salmon and steelhead from moving up and down the Grand River. However, on the west side of the river, a series of stair-step concrete pools called a fish ladder has been constructed to allow these fish to bypass the dam on their journey upstream toward Lansing. A specially designed viewing structure allows visitors to see fish as they pass by. Parking is available adjacent to the fish ladder and also nearby on the street.

The fish ladder at this site was designed and built with fish viewing in mind. Visitors can view several fish species put on quite a show as they "climb" the ladder by jumping from pool to pool. Large steelhead may be seen at this site in the spring, while coho and chinook salmon are best viewed in early fall. Other species such as carp might be viewed here any time of year. Carp are very vigorous jumpers that provide spectacular entertainment."

Did you know that almost 40% of our river is walled off?

The industrial age was also unkind to our river, with the removal of bed rock that became some of our historical buildings (St. Mark's Episcopal Church being one, even some of our early public schools which are now long gone) and the factories that were built that needed power. Storm run-off and pollution. Efforts have been and continue to be ongoing to restore it with pollution control. Our city has done a lot of work to get it to the level it is at now and that work is ongoing. In 1904 due to flooding began the construction of flood walls and other measures to keep the rising waters at bay. They also kept people from enjoying the river on it's level.

The Public Debate.

Not too long ago (2012) there was a debate in Grand Rapids about whether to restore the rapids to the Grand River or not. The consensus ended up being that it would happen. While some may not have liked the outcome of this debate, others are excited about the possibilities. We as residents on either side of that debate have a great opportunity to help shape the plan on how it happens and move forward.

How can you be a part of the planning?

There are community mini series meetings and regional meetings occurring in the next couple of months in our neighborhood and around the city at large. Planning meetings where the city would like to hear your ideas and questions about the implementation of these changes to the Grand River. They are being held by a local group called GR Forward. We have previously posted the meetings in the event section of our WGNO Facebook Events page and to the calendar on our website. We have also posted other materials to these sites having to do with the Grand River and Please see those pages for the dates and times or to share them with friends. It is time for the west side to also lend their voices to the planning!

Not only will you be able to help shape the plan, but you will also be introduced to new terms and concepts, like "terraced bioswales," Which is when small levees on the banks hold back flood waters while offering park-like settings during times when there is no flood threat. The planners will also show you how other riverfront cities  have created public spaces. Such as the ones viewable here: River Views - A GR Forward Contrast of Grand Rapids' treatment of the Grand River and how other cities are making use of their rivers

It is also important to note that other cities and towns have been successful in taking dams out of their waterways, making them more natural and appealing to visitors, like in Mount Pleasant, Michigan along the Chippewa River and others. With positive results.

Moving forward with GR Forward:

To learn a little more about the Downtown and River Action Plan check out this MLive Article: MLive - Getting to know the Grand: GR Forward planners work with Whitewater, FEMA on river restoration



We would also love to hear from you if you attended one of these series meetings! 
Tell us what you thought or send us pictures!
Message us on Facebook or email us at: mail@westgrand.org

The Northwest Regional Meeting is at Union High School 1800 Tremont Blvd. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504 on December 17th, 2014 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Source Articles and other information for this post are derived from the following:

MIGenWeb - History of Grand River Boating - Transcription information from the book: History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan By Albert Baxter Copyright 1891 by Munsell & Company 208 Broadway, N. Y.
History of Grand Rapids.org - Why this place is called Grand Rapids Transcription information from the book: Grand Rapids Progress, July 1913, page 125.

PLEASE NOTE: We do not own any of the content and provided the links to give credit due to those who deserve it. If we forgot anyone please let us know and we will credit the information!

Newer Changes to our site:

posted Nov 15, 2014, 2:17 PM by mail @westgrand.org

Added Recently:

New posts about events and parking restrictions. Please take a look at the Latest News section here: Latest News

We have updated the WGNO Business Directory to include a map with information on the businesses. We also added more businesses to the list (from 39 to 53), while that may not seem like many, the information needs to be put in by hand and then the document is uploaded to a site to make it possible. Also the code needed to be added to allow for it to be on our site. We removed the old business directory to make the page easier to read. Plus the old directory was more time consuming to update!  However, you now get the best of both worlds, the information, plus a searchable map! Take a look: West Grand Business Directory

More calendar dates have been added to our calendar here: WGNO Calendar

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