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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

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Build a Better Block project gets nod of approval from Grand Rapids DDA


Caroline MacGregor
February 13, 2013 | WGVU   “This Better Block model fit with the way I was thinking how we should evolve in terms of our discourse about planning issues and move from conversation to getting our hands dirty and making change.”

Lynee Wells is an urban planner with Williams and Works. She is currently involved in a project to rebuild and reinvigorate urban core areas of cities like Grand Rapids. She and Josh Leffingwell and Tyler Doornbos with Friendly Corps presented their Build a Better Block initiative to DDA officials Wednesday. The project aims to promote community engagement to transform a portion of State Street in one weekend.

“State Street is interesting because it straddles Heritage Hill and the Heartside business district boundaries so this is an opportunity for two neighborhood/business districts to collaborate.”

Wells read about the BBB idea over a year ago and thought it would be a great way to get residents of Grand Rapids involved in a hands-on project to upgrade the city. The long term goal is to inspire developers and building owners to make permanent changes to their neighborhood.

The block project will be held the weekend of May 18-19 - the same week as the Heritage Hill Home Tour. Wells says it’s a great opportunity to link the two events as the home tour brings in people from all over the city.

“It is open to anyone and everyone, we are going to have activities for all ages, all abilities - it's truly going to bring people from all over the city, people who work for St.Mary's, people who own property around State Street and all sides of our community that can see the difference we can make in one weekend and take those ideas back to their own community.”

Over the next month, organizers will work with property owners to come up with a list of upgrades for the corridor – this could include painting crosswalks, pedestrian improvements and modifications to bus stops and shelters to make them more dynamic as well as retail efforts.

The group will partner with Friends of GR Parks for their “Parks Alive” weekend. Wells says its important constituents and stakeholders have a voice in the project. Now that they have the support of city leaders, three committees will be formed to focus on planning, promotions and programming. The groups will meet twice a month. More information on Better Block GR can be found on www.betterblockgr.com.

More WGVU News
Yesterday
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IRS Expands Tax Center Test To Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids MI  March 3, 2015  |  WGVU  The IRS has added Grand Rapids to its list of cities that offers appointment based tax help at its Tax Assistance Centers. The move is part of a test the IRS is doing to see if appointments work better than a walk-in system. The goal is to see if taxpayers avoid the long lines and wait times. The Grand Rapids and Marquette offices are the only two in Michigan.    
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Michigan officials seek frog, toad survey volunteers
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Monday
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Officials seek to boost food assistance at farmers markets
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East Grand Rapids reviews non-discrimination policy
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Grants aid Port of Muskegon development study
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Michigan could bypass healthier school fundraising rules
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Michigan appeals federal wolf decision
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Friday
Fermenta fosters female brewing creativity
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Eastpointe man sentenced for selling fake auto insurance
Lansing MI  February 27, 2015  |  WGVU  A 64-year-old Michigan man has been sentenced to one year in jail for selling fake auto insurance certificates.    
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DeBoer attorney says SCOTUS arguments will focus on children
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State grant to GRCC helps bridge workforce and employer demands
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Authorities: Woman dies after being hit by semi in Otsego
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Thursday
Kalamazoo Promise celebrating 10th anniversary
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House adopts bills to relax air guns rules
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State grants boost local college skilled trade programs
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Officials in Grand Rapids seek to boost youth employment
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