GR Mayor Bliss delivers her first State of the City

New Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss delivers her first State of the State address. (Feb. 2, 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As State of the City speeches go, the one delivered Tuesday by new Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss was pretty jam-packed with initiatives.

How does she plan to get it all done?

“I’m going to set up a really good structure so I have really good people around me,” said Bliss, the first woman elected mayor in Grand Rapids.

Bliss presented her first State of the City address at the Harris Building on South Division, calling the renovated structure an example of where Grand Rapids has been and where it’s going.

“Similar to a tree, our city has deep roots and we have built a strong foundation,” she said.

Among the plans for her first year in office, Bliss pledged to continue efforts to improve police and community relations.

“We want all citizens to see every police officer as their community officer,” she said.

She also promised to become more aggressive fighting blight in the neighborhoods and to create more affordable housing.

“I will ask the city commission to join me in the establishment of a housing fund that can be used to start to build a stable and effective way to help ensure long-term financing for affordable housing,” Bliss told the gathering.

She also said she will push to change current city ordinance that restricts food trucks from peddling their specialties in the city.

Bliss wants to continue efforts that support restoring the rapids to the Grand River and to use the river as a focal point for downtown development.

She also pledged to keep the city moving forward when it comes to green, sustainability initiatives.

“These goals include getting 100 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2025,” says Bliss, who also talked of creating more park space.

“We are going to work to ensure there is a park within walking distance of every single child that lives in our city.” she continued.

She also recognized the need to address racial disparity.

“We must confront a difficult issue that has grown to an unacceptable proportion in our city,” she said.

And while it may not be the headline grabber from her first State of the City, if you ride a bike or drive a car in Grand Rapids, another of Bliss’s planned programs is probably important to you.

“Grand Rapids has one of the highest bike crash rates in the state,” Bliss said in announcing an initiative to promote bicycle and other two-wheel awareness and safety. “It will be an education program that focuses on both — both as a cyclist and as a driver.”


Bliss also plans to hold three public forums in each of the city’s wards to discuss the plan she outlined during her State of the City address.

Each event will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, Feb. 8 at Shawmut Hills Elementary, 2550 Burritt St. NW
  • Wednesday, Feb. 10 at Gerald R. Ford Academy, 857 Madison Ave. SE
  • Thursday, Feb. 11 at Palmer Elementary, 309 Palmer St. NE

People who are unable to attend any of the meetings may contact Bliss through an e-mail to

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