How Are Detroit’s Parks Changing?

As a part of WDET’s Parks Project program this summer, Detroit Today’s Sandra Svoboda speaks in depth with Bridge Magazine writer, Bill McGraw, about topics from his new piece for the magazine on the changes he’s seeing in Detroit parks this summer.

  • The good news: McGraw reports that according to both his and other people’s observations, the condition of parks in the city has been improving. He points to an increased budget in the city’s General Services Department and efforts of volunteers as reasons why citizens are seeing improvement in the city’s parks.

  • The city’s plans for the summer: The city plans on improving 12 parks including smaller neighborhood parks as well as larger parks like Patton Park on the southwest side and Balduck Park on the east side of Detroit. McGraw states that parks will gain new outdoor facilities such as baseball diamonds, walking paths, picnic tables, and updated restrooms.

  • Who’s involved: While McGraw points to efforts the city itself will make, he also refers to a city program, Adopt-a-Park, which encourages organized groups to take care of a park of their choice by mowing and trimming grass and picking up trash—so far, 75 out of Detroit’s 307 parks have been adopted through this program. He also cites organizations like the Lear Corporation, the Detroit Mower Gang, and even a company in Maine which have also contributed to park rehabilitation and upkeep in Detroit.

  • Ghost Parks (the bad news): According to McGraw, “Ghost Parks” refers to parks that began closing before Mayor Duggan’s term in office which have stopped receiving aid and are likely to become “vacant lots.” He also points to the city’s population decline and explains that 307 parks are really too many parks for the number of residents in the city. He even says that some parks aren’t in the right places and, therefore, don’t service the right communities.

  • When to judge growth: McGraw concludes by saying that significant progress has already been made in Detroit’s parks but that it will take time to truly judge how successful efforts have been in the city.

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.

Marissa Gawel/WDET


Image credit: WDET/Michael Ference

This post is a part of WDET's Parks Project.

All summer long in 2015, WDET reported on how parks are impacting Detroiters and how Detroiters impacted the parks.

We asked you to be a part of this work by being the eyes and ears of your local parks. We asked you to help us find out what is going on in the parks in your city and your neighborhood. Were parks being maintained? Who were using the park, and what was happening there? Is it safe?

Detroit Park Watch is produced by WDET 101.9 FM and is powered by the Detroit Journalism Cooperative. Support for this project ccomes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



We want to hear from you.
Share your thoughts and opinions: