With the theme of working together to build a vibrant community for all, the Mayor delivered her eighth address last week. Here are a few key takeaways:
Public Safety: She recognized progress towards improving the public safety system and Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom, who will soon celebrate his one-year anniversary. This includes programs to expand the public safety toolkit:
- Partnerships with mental health professionals and the Cure Violence program.
- The inclusion of oversight language and the Office of Public Oversight and Accountability in labor contracts.
Housing: The Mayor cited the 14,000 units needed by 2027 identified by Housing Next and the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation. She highlighted the scale of the issue is immense but the City is has already permitted 400 units this year and have mor than 1000 affordable units in the pipeline. She also recognized the need to increase density and “go-up” as well as the City’s Affordable Housing Fund.
Restoring the Rapids: Mayor Bliss noted the complexity of the effort and that we can expect to see projects along the river to begin later this year and into next, and that we are closer than ever to the project moving forward.
What’s the Latest at the City of Grand Rapids?
The Chamber is aligned with the Mayor’s focus of supporting a safe and vibrant community, increasing housing supply and affordability and private-public partnerships to deliver the transformational projects that will provide economic and quality of life benefits region wide.
Upcoming Meetings to Note:
On Tuesday, March 28 the Public Safety Committee will discuss drone use by the Grand Rapids Police Department. The use of technology by GRPD has been ‘controversial’ for several years and reached a high point with backlash on the City (and amongst Commissioners) regarding interest in “ShotSpotter” which identifies the locations of gunshots. Activist networks are organizing opposition to drone use.
- GRPD has mentioned that the use of drones will provide a valuable resource in response to critical incidents. Recently, the Sheriff’s department assisted in a search for a baby in a stolen car because they are allowed to use drones.
- If sufficient support exists on the Committee, a public hearing date will be set in April. The Committee will also get an update from staff on feedback sessions hosted on safety in public spaces.
The City Commission will soon begin meeting more often as they proceed to presentations and discussions on budget items as they near the end of May vote to adopt the FY24 Fiscal Plan.