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Community Updates: Friday, June 23

The City of Grand Rapids, Kent County Health Department, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to offer free water filters to eligible Kent County households; City Planning Commission holds public hearing for proposed downtown amphitheater; and more
Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids

Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids /John Rothwell

The City of Grand Rapids, Kent County Health Department, and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to Offer Free Water Filters to Eligible Kent County Households

In a press release that was sent out on Wednesday, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) announced that it is working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the City of Grand Rapids to provide residents with the tools and knowledge needed to prevent lead exposure in their homes.

Through this partnership, the KCHD will be offering free water filters to Kent County families in need. Households that have lead service lines/plumbing fixtures may be eligible to receive a free water filter if they also contain a pregnant individual and/or a minor under 18 years of age. Additional requirements specified by Kent County are that "a member of the household is enrolled in Medicaid or WIC" and that "the household is unable to afford a filter." Registration is open and required.

As of this week, eligible residents who have registered can pick up their free water filters at one of two pick-up locations in Grand Rapids (at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Building) or Kentwood (Kentwood Public Schools Facilities and Operations Building). More locations are expected to be added in the near future.

According to Elizabeth Hertel, the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

"Using a certified lead reducing water filter is a prevention tactic much like having smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your home. By encouraging filter use and getting filters out into the community, we will protect Kent County families by minimizing lead exposure through drinking water."

KCHD and the City of Grand Rapids also have additional resources available for residents who want to learn more about lead contamination and exposure. Earlier this month, Kent County put out a video on their YouTube channel called "How to identify what material your service line is made of." Residents of the City of Grand Rapids also have access to a virtual map that shows where the lead lines in the city are.

While "municipal water systems throughout Kent County are tested regularly and meet all state and federal guidelines governing lead levels," the City of Grand Rapids has acknowledged that it is still possible for water to become contaminated due to the corrosion of outdated residential plumbing fixtures. According to Mayor Rosalynn Bliss:

"We know that the water being delivered to homes in Grand Rapids is safe. But we also recognize that until we're able to eliminate every potential source of contamination now and in the future, including those inside of the home, interim solutions like filters can play a critical role in helping to keep our residents safe."

For more information about the free water filters and the Get Ahead of Lead campaign, visit Kent County's website


City Planning Commission Holds Public Hearing for Proposed Downtown Amphitheater

On Thursday, the Grand Rapids City Planning Commission held a regular meeting at City Hall.

One of the agenda items for this meeting was a public hearing session for the proposed amphitheater in downtown Grand Rapids. This project, which has received widespread news coverage over the last several months, was described in detail by Bill Culhane (the Executive Architect on the project). Two residents took the podium to speak on this proposal. While both residents expressed support for the amphitheater, they did bring up some concerns regarding noise levels, traffic, parking, and resident engagement. 

Most of the commissioners expressed their support for this project and the business it will bring to downtown Grand Rapids. While they did acknowledge that there may be some traffic issues along Market Avenue, they felt confident that these issues would resolve themselves. Kyle Van Strien, Chairman of the City Planning Commission, stated that:

"I think this is a really important piece of the vibrancy puzzle for a City like Grand Rapids -- I'm really excited to see this... While the location presents some challenges because of the proximity to an off-ramp, I think it's also the perfect space for this [project]."

To watch the full City Planning Commission meeting, visit the City's YouTube channel or view below:


Also in the News:

  • Due to the continued lack of rainfall in Michigan over the last several weeks, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging Michiganders to practice caution when lighting and extinguishing fires. According to the DNR's website, much of both the upper and lower peninsulas (including Grand Rapids) are under an elevated fire danger level.


  • On Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9, John Ball Zoo (JBZ) will be hosting HippoPalooza to "celebrate [its] new pygmy hippos Jahari and Penelope." For more information about the event, visit the JBZ's website


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