I was disappointed to hear that Detroit’s Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced the sale of 92 city parks last month. Many of these parks are probably small, abandoned and surrounded by other empty lots. Reportedly, the city wants to generate some revenue and spark development by selling these pocket parks.

There are enough vacant properties to stimulate development in Detroit, and I don’t see why the city can’t examine other approaches to revitalizing areas that are not designated parkland. Turning to parkland reveals a sense of desperation. It’s probably true that many of these parks are eye-sores and hardly ever used (what child would want to play on rusted, broken swings?), but selling off a city’s parks, no matter how small, is a short-sighted approach to city planning.

Whether it’s due to poor leadership, too much bureaucracy, or lack of resources, it’s unfortunate that the city is unable to improve these neighborhood parks. With the elimination of these neighborhood parks, the city cannot bank on the larger city parks (Belle Isle, Palmer Park, Rouge Park) to attract more residents, especially without an adequate public transportation system. During my experience working with youth who lived in northeast Detroit, few, if any, had even been to Belle Isle, which is considered one of the most well-known parks of Detroit.

Coincidentally, I’ve been researching the history of Detroit parks and greenspaces for my landscape theory class. As cities grew with Industrialization in the late 19th century, pioneering planners, such as Frederick L. Olmsted, advocated for the integration of public park space, in order to promote the public and environmental health of urban centers. In 1921, Detroit had become a national leader in park and recreational activities and hosted the annual convention for the National Association of Park Administrators. Hundeds of park administrators from around the country flocked to Detroit to learn how its park system accommodated a growing populace, and to view Belle Isle’s spectacular architecture and park design. (Though Belle Isle has been stripped to its bare essentials, with the closing of the zoo, aquarium and other attractions within the last 10 years).

I’m not necessarily arguing for the city to seek a return to the early 1900s because we clearly live in a different social and urban context today. But I do support innovative and visionary leadership to city planning and repairing the fabric of our urban communities. What would it look like if the city partnered with the local community to identify the needs of their neighborhoods? How can communities self-strategize to bring and maintain resources in the city? What does the city value, and how do those values manifest the kind of development we are encouraging in the city? Can we invite city designers and planners to rethink Detroit?

Click below for the list of neighborhood parks for sale:

DISTRICT 1
Armour-Knodell
Collins
Coventry
Facsko
Hasse-Emery
Hildale-Grixdale
Mackay-Modern
Russell-Maderia
Schuster
Syracuse
Twork

DISTRICT 2
Bringard-Boulder
Edmore-Marbud
Glenfield-Lannett
Manning-Beland
Troester-Hayes

DISTRICT 3
Brinkett-Hibbard
Burns-Lambert
Canfield-Sheridan
Castador
Kercheval-Parker
Kiwanis Club No. 1
Pennsylvania-St. Paul
Sylvester-Field
Sylvester-Seyburn

DISTRICT 4
15th-Butternut
16th-Forest
4th-Charlotte
Alexandrine-Elmwood
Benson-Elmwood
Dabrowski
Downey
Elba-Ellery
Ewald
Hecla
Lawrence
Lucky Place
Macomb
Maiullo
Michigan-3rd
Mt. Elliott-Zender
Muliett
Scripps
Stone Memorial Pool
Times Square-Clifford
Vermont-Alexandrine
West Willis No. 1, No. 2
Wick

DISTRICT 5
25th-Toledo
Beard
Boyer
Buchanan-Tillman
Cottrell
Cottrell-Erie
Dingeman
Harvey-Junction
Lumley-Michigan
Malish
Post-Jefferson
Tarnow-Kirkwood
Watson

DISTRICT 6
Atkinson
Dover
Kantgias
Lifsitz
Sirotkin
Virginia Park
Woodrow Wilson-Fullerton

DISTRICT 7
Constance-St. Mary’s
Cross
Doan
Fitzpatrick
Ryan
Tireman-Littlefield
Weaver-Penrod
Wolf

DISTRICT 8
Clarita-Stout
Frisbee-Pembroke
Marx
Reid
Riordan
7 Mile-Appleton
Tuttle
Votrobeck

DISTRICT 9
Bale
Liuzzo
Puritan-Coyle
Varier

DISTRICT 10
Belden-Santa Maria
Hyde
Sherwood

Advertisements

  1. Jennylx

    Great post Mimi!
    I had no idea this was happening. Looking at this, on top of the school closures, on top of the rec center closures, on top of fire department closures… it’s hard not to believe that there is a conspiracy at work between the city and developers, aimed at making the city utterly unlivable for its current residents, creating a “blank slate” of sorts, from which a new city, full of charter schools, Crossroads developments, campus martius’ and riverwalks can be built.

  2. Thanks Jennylx. I actually received the announcement over the cass corridor listserve and I imagine it went over quietly without much uproar, especially if you didn’t hear about it! I have been thinking about this post a lot recently, especially through my research into Belle Isle park (btw, turns out that very little of Olmsted’s actual vision for the park was built). It is hard to understand what is happening behind the non-transparent curtains of the city administration, and I think you are on to something about the connection to the new public works (funded by private money) taking place in the city. I bet the funds generated from the sale of the small parks ARE going toward the riverfront development.

    I would go further to distinguish the type of “positive” development from one another, if that is possible. I certainly do not support the kind of development that Crosswinds took over in Brush Park, in light of their bullying tactics to purchase the property. I do support new developments like the riverwalk because Detroit has a beautiful riverfront to celebrate. This type of development can garner more support to find ways to clean up the toxic lands that the steel industry left along the river.

  3. Link exchange is nothing else except it is only placing the other person’s weblog link on your page at proper place and other person will also do same for you.

  4. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes
    which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.

    Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work!

  5. I really like what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and
    reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve you guys to blogroll.

  6. I really like reading through a post that can make men and women
    think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!

  7. The fact that they are less susceptible to
    damages during natural hazards such as like earthquake or torrential rain.
    There are a variety of steel buildings give you the much needed edge over competitors in that
    they are made of steel. Armstrong Steel is committed steel buildings amarillo tx
    to providing customers with the finest building at the start of the following
    school year.

  1. 1 links for 2007-12-04 « no snow here

    […] For Sale: Detroit Parks « wsoft.heart “I was disappointed to hear that Detroit’s Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced the sale of 92 city parks last month. Many of these parks are probably small, abandoned and surrounded by other empty lots. Reportedly, the city wants to generate some revenue a (tags: detroit) […]




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: