The completion of Joe Taylor Park celebrates a nearly decade-long project to expand this urban park in the Baxter Neighborhood, nearly doubling its size. The park’s completion ushers in a new era of park design that will set the standard for future park development using numerous sustainable, low impact design elements. These include an underground stormwater treatment facility which treats 40 square acres of upland storm water, a pervious pavement parking lot, LED lights for park lighting, low maintenance plant material, integration of existing playground equipment, a maintenance endowment, and a water playground that reuses water to irrigate trees, grass and shrubs in the park.
The vision for this park expansion was created by the neighbors starting in 2003 when the City held meetings to update the City’s Master Plan and the Parks and Recreation Five Year Master Plan. In 2009, the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan also designated several areas of our city deficient in green space, including this severely underserved community, and engaged the community to create a new park plan for the area. Joe Taylor Park began humbly in 1976, when several houses were demolished and combined with vacant lots to create an open space. It was named Baxter Green until 1992, when it was renamed for Joe Taylor, a city police officer who was shot and killed in 1986.
The park reconstruction and expansion was made possible thanks to public and private support and input from community stakeholders in the Baxter neighborhood. Funding for the park came from a Capital Improvement Fund Bond, a Community Development Block Grant and a gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation through Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, who also established an endowment to help ensure the park can be maintained and improved over time.