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Posted on: November 3, 2021

East Grand Rapids Voters Elect Three Commissioners, Approve Parks Improvement Millage

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East Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nov. 3, 2021 – East Grand Rapids voters Tuesday elected Marc Schulz, Chris Wessely and Laura Schwartz to the City Commission and approved the 2021 Parks Improvement Millage. 

Schulz, Wessely and Schwartz ran unopposed for seats in each of the City’s three wards. They succeed Brad Hecksel, Claudine Wagenaar (formerly Duncan) and Bryan Walters, respectively. 

Wagenaar was term limited after serving two four-year terms on the City Commission. Hecksel was appointed by the Commission in February 2020 to complete the remaining two years of Mayor Katie Favale’s Commission term and did not seek election. Walters did not file for reelection and resigned from the Commission in September when his family moved out of East Grand Rapids.

“The City Commission is delighted to welcome Marc, Laura and Chris, and we look forward to working together in our mission to continually improve East Grand Rapids,” said Mayor Katie Favale. “At the same time, we will miss Brad, Claudine and Bryan. I thank them for their service and dedication to our city over the years and wish them all the best in their next chapters.”  

The new city commissioners will be sworn in Monday, Dec. 6 during the City Commission meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m.

Additionally, the Parks Improvement Millage proposal passed with 59.3% percent of the vote, allowing the City to collect an annual 0.56 mills from each household over the next 20 years to make improvements to its parks and open spaces. 

The millage will provide funding for the replacement of the five playgrounds within the city, as well as for projects in several parks identified in the City’s 2018 Master Plan and 2020 Community Parks and Recreation Master Plan. These projects were identified by residents as top priorities during these planning processes. The parks projects include Manhattan Park improvements, a new Gaslight Village pop-up park and sports courts and fields upgrades.

The millage will begin with the July 2022 summer tax bill, costing approximately $112 per year for a home with a taxable value of $200,000 – the median taxable value in East Grand Rapids. 

The City Commission will begin discussing priorities and timelines for individual projects in the coming weeks. The Commission will consider the projects during its regular meetings, which are held on the first and third Monday of each month. Residents and community members will have several opportunities to provide input while the Commission considers each project.

“It’s impossible to think of East Grand Rapids without picturing an active community, which is why this millage is critical for the improvement of our parks and open spaces,” Favale said. “We applaud voters for investing in our home to ensure East Grand Rapids continues to be a great place to live, work and play for all.”

The City’s public parks encompass more than 179 acres of land, including John Collins Park and Waterfront Park on the shores of Reeds Lake. City property also includes several passive natural areas – Hodenpyl Woods, Remington Park, Steketee Woods, Schroeder Park and portions of Manhattan Park.

For more information on the Parks Improvement Millage proposal, visit eastgr.org/parksmillage

For more information about the City of East Grand Rapids, visit eastgr.org. Follow the City on Twitter @cityofeastgr and on Facebook at facebook.com/CityofEGR.

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