East Grand Rapids — New swings, multi-story play structures, ball courts, gaga pits, slides — these are just some of the new attractions at East Grand Rapids’ three elementary school playgrounds.
The additions are part of an ongoing renovation project, and while construction won’t fully wrap up until spring, new equipment is already in use at Breton Downs, Lakeside and Wealthy elementary schools.
“We’re really proud of the results, seeing kids play on what’s available right now,” said Anthony Morey, assistant superintendent of finance and operations.
‘It’s just great to see our students out here playing, not only during school but after school and the weekends.’— Breton Downs Principal Katie McIntosh
The upgrades are the result of a partnership between the school district and the City of East Grand Rapids, which jointly oversee playgrounds and city parks through a facilities agreement. The city and school board sought community input on playground renovations a few years back, and found there was support and interest in revamping the playgrounds.
Through the city’s parks improvement millage and the district’s recreation millage renewal — both approved in November 2021 — a combined total of around $4 million has been invested in the projects, according to Morey.
Addressing Wants, Needs
Gathering feedback for the upgrades involved hearing directly from students, and Morey said “kids were very much involved.”
The renovations also have some practical purposes, such as addressing drainage issues, giving parents better pick-up and drop-off accessibility, and improving access for students with physical limitations.
The new playground equipment is drawing student attention “like a shiny new apple,” Breton Downs Principal Katie McIntosh said.
“It’s just great to see our students out here playing, not only during school but after school and the weekends,” she said. “We’re really excited about this addition and the opportunity to have a new playground at our building.”
Read more from East Grand Rapids:
• High-school additions, renovations proposed in bond request
• Plot twist: young authors, illustrators lead the way