GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 30, 2023 — State Rep. Kristian Grant (D-Grand Rapids) and the city of Grand Rapids welcome funding contained in the State of Michigan’s bipartisan fiscal 2023-24 budget that has passed the Legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature. The “Make it in Michigan” budget provides critical funding for two major Grand Rapids capital projects — fire stations and a training center, and the Martin Luther King Park Lodge.


“Consistently, residents have talked about the need for community space,” Grant said. “With that in mind, I am happy to bring home $6 million for the renovation of the MLK Community Lodge. These funds will help to modernize the design of the Lodge and expand their services to our community. The space will be used for recreational use, events, classrooms, offices, programming, and most importantly, it will be a space that is safe and open to our students and families. I, along with Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, am excited to help create a space we, in the Third Ward, can call our own.”


“When we invest in critical infrastructure like a fire station, we are ensuring that neighbors in Grand Rapids will have access to swift and well-trained help when they need it most,” said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “This is part of what will make our city a safe, vibrant place to live for today and well into the future. I’m proud to have secured this robust investment in our city’s Third Ward and to support the courageous and essential work that our firefighters do.”


“I am grateful to legislators for this significant investment in public safety and efforts to improve fire services in our growing city,” Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington said. “Our firefighters do a terrific job serving our community, and we can now confidently move forward with developing plans for financing, designing and constructing new stations.  I will be working with staff and the City Commission in the upcoming fiscal year to solidify these plans. Likewise, I am excited about improving the MLK Park Lodge — a treasured community asset and significant investment in the Third Ward. The state funding will help us leverage existing funding from the parks millage and Third Ward Equity Fund to make this project a reality.”


“We are so appreciative of the Legislature’s efforts and Gov. Whitmer in bringing critical funding to our city and our residents,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks and state Rep. Kristian Grant prioritized the needs of the residents in the Third Ward, who have historically been underrepresented. These funds illustrate the city’s core value of leading with equity. Our entire Grand Rapids delegation — including Sen. Majority Leader Brinks and State Reps. John Fitzgerald, Carol Glanville, Kristian Grant, Rachel Hood and Phil Skaggs — delivered meaningful investments that will impact residents and visitors for generations.”


In addition to the specific funding for the Grand Rapids capital projects, city officials also were pleased to see specific state budget funding totaling over $50 million to go to nonprofits and community partners for projects in Grand Rapids.


About the Martin Luther King Jr. Park Lodge:

The project proposes to rebuild the existing lodge to create a modern facility that is flexible and multi-use; fully accessible for all ages and abilities; open year-round; and energy efficient, safe and affordable for the public use. Located in the 17-acre MLK Jr. Park, in a dense urban neighborhood on Grand Rapids’ southeast side, the lodge is a vital facility for community gatherings in southeast Grand Rapids, particularly for the African American community since its establishment in the early 20th century. MLK is known for its many recreational amenities and community events that take place throughout the year. The outdoor pool, as well as the free summer day camp operating since 2017, bring thousands of children to the park each summer.


Neighbors are enthusiastically supportive and excited about the potential opportunities to use the renovated lodge for baby showers, family reunions, receptions, quinceañeras, as well as other community health and wellness programming, including fitness classes, boxing, and youth enrichment programming.


About the Fire Stations:

The project proposes to rebuild the Division Avenue Fire Station — to replace an obsolete fire station that would result in increased services and response capabilities and serve as a catalyst for further economic development. Plans include elements of a training center to keep units in district when possible and a large community/training room. Additionally, a park, community gathering space and affordable housing options on the former (obsolete) fire station lot are planned. This station would serve most of the south end of Grand Rapids and a large portion of the Third Ward.


Funding would also help build a station in the Kalamazoo Avenue Fire District — this fire district serves the highest population, largest taxable value base and largest square footage of protected property in the city. This second station is drastically needed to meet community needs, increase services and decrease response times. This station also regularly provides automatic aid to neighboring communities when there are significant incidents or high demand for public safety responses.