Detroit’s first Metropark is coming next year

The long-awaited Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park will open on Detroit’s West Riverfront in 2024.

A rendering of Detroit's Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Metropark. A vibrant, green park is on the edge of the West Riverfront and is surrounded by the city of Detroit.

A rendering of Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park.

The city of Detroit will soon be getting the long-awaited Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park, a new 22-acre recreational area.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Huron-Clinton Metroparks recently announced the name of Detroit’s first 2.5-acre Metropark, The Huron-Clinton Metroparks Water Garden, which will be situated inside the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park. (Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that only the 2.5-acre Huron-Clinton Metroparks Water Garden will be considered a Metropark, whereas the Ralph C. Wilson Centennial Park as a whole will not.)

The park will be built on Detroit’s West Riverfront. It will feature two regulation-size basketball courts, a playground which will have multiple animal structures for children to play in, a lawn for outdoor events and a garden with water features.

The new recreational area is scheduled to open in 2024.

Amy McMillan, associate director of Huron-Clinton Metroparks, says the partnership will make outdoor recreation more accessible in the city.

“All the stars aligned to make that happen,” McMillan says. “We are so excited to be able to achieve this longtime goal and to more equitably serve the city of Detroit residents.”

The Ralph Wilson Park has been in the works since 2017. According to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the journey to transform the existing West Riverfront Park into a gathering place for all of Detroit has been a priority.

McMillan says there’s enough funding to make the new recreational area a reality.

“We have improved our financial position over the course of the last several years,” she says. “As our position improves, we can work together with partners to achieve some of these bigger, regional dreams that we’ve all had.”

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks network has 13 other parks in the five-county area surrounding Detroit. More visitation of the existing parks and an increased interest in the outdoors during the pandemic led to more funding for new projects.

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