Downtown Lansing beach set for completion by August
Work is set to begin next week at Rotary Park, a new destination on the Grand River between the Lansing Center and the Shiawassee Street Bridge.
Progress began when Lansing Mayor Andy Schor signed an executive order in January, renaming downtown parkland Rotary Park after the Rotary Club of Lansing committed to donating $400,000 to the development of the area. Construction will begin when the ground thaws.
The project will install a non-swimming beach area with lounge chairs and umbrellas, a lighted forest, an outdoor fireplace, a plaza and a patio with a sculpture.
“We all know that we love our big cities and even smaller cities that have cool things," Capital Region Community Foundation executive vice president Laurie Baumer said. "We want Lansing to have a slice of cool.”
The project is expected to help the city's economy by making the city more attractive and encouraging more people to move into the area, Baumer said.
"It’s proven over and over again that cities that are considered cool do attract talent,” she said. “Our businesses are seriously in need of recruiting talent so that they can thrive, so we want a cool city for our own residents, but we also want to attract new residents.”
Umbrella and lounge chair rentals are expected to be available. Nearby River Town Adventures rents kayaks, canoes and bicycles for use on the Grand River and the nearby Lansing River Trail.
First identified as a potential benefit by the Community Foundation in 2016, the ball started to roll on the project in February 2017, when the organization asked residents in the greater Lansing area to send in ideas for developing the area to their “Penny for Your Thoughts” contest.
The foundation committed $1.2 million in matched funding, complementing private donations until that total is reached to aid in the development of the area.
The Community Foundation's contributions all come from an allocated leadership fund. The project has received donations from groups like the Rotary Club, Delta Dental, Dewpoint and Auto-Owners Insurance.
Around 10 private donors contributed a total of $950,000 to the project and were matched dollar-for-dollar by the Community Foundation, bringing the total to around $2 million.
“The government can’t do everything, so it does take a collaborative effort by everyone,” Boumer said. “From individuals, to businesses, to organizations that all are working toward a common goal.”
The park is expected to be completed by summer 2019.
“Right now, we are experiencing a renaissance in the Greater Lansing area in terms of our attention to making it a more vibrant community, and we’re all on the same page," Baumer said. "(We're) all with the same goal of making the Lansing area more vibrant and attractive to talent.”