Willis Park

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This project is intended to create a model for pocket parks of the future for our city and region. The process of creating a successful, ecologically sustainable park will be modeled after the process that was used for the Green_alley. This is the story of one small park in Detroit. It is between Second and Third Avenues on Willis in the Midtown. As of Winter 2011, this park has not been maintained for several years and has fallen into an unkempt state. Our goal is to bring it back to a green space that contributes to, rather than detracts from, quality of life in the neighborhood.

Recently the people of University Cultural Center Association (UCCA), Motor City Brewing Works and the Green Garage began discussions of the park's possibilities. A neighborhood group is forming to plan and design the park.

Meeting notes Feb. 8, 2011

City of Detroit Recreation Dept. contact: Tim Carl. Annmarie from UCCA will contact regarding the following:

  • Adopt a Park program
  • Land use plan for parks
  • Long term licensing
  • Insurance

Examples of private non-profit models

  • Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
  • Detroit Zoo

Design ideas

  • Develop the process, by which others can learn to implement neighborhood parks
  • Make it a native plant nursery producing seed stock to start other pocket parks or urban ecosystems
  • Incorporate children's interests such as playground equipment
  • Get used/abandoned equipment from City of Detroit-Park authorization form required and Annmarie has this

Initial work

  • Get the neighbors involved so they are invested and see benefits
  • Find out what can be done about the fence, who the existing one belongs to
  • Photograph the park as it is now and gather photos from the past
  • Clean up trees and brush in March and take to El Moore for chipping
  • Organize a work day in April to clean up the lot

Meeting notes Mar. 23, 2011

  • We will do a tree/brush trimming in mid-April. Work with Brian to do this as part of El Moore chipping. Rent chipper for both. No community involvement at this point...with liability and all. We will notify neighbors though. (Tom / Dan)
  • Do a community clean up day in May to get the park back to a basic usability. (Annmarie/Tom/Dan)
    • Take the 8' fence down in front....move gate to back of Park.
    • Met students from West Will Apts that want to get involved. Tom will email. Should help organize.
    • Might be able to get Neil's company involved with this day.
    • Begin plantings...just the beginnings.
    • Get some form of a front fence and archway.
  • Have a outdoor film night at the El Moore in late June...to create awareness for the Park's rebirth and raise some small donations to buy play equipment. This would be a joint UCCA-MCBW-Green Garage effort. With the latter two doing the work. (Tom/Dan)
  • Annmarie should send adopt the park application over to the City even if they don't process it. They are at least on notice that we are interested.
  • Kirsten (Earth Central & Green Garage) will draw up a plan for the park...identifying where the pavement and trees are located. She'll identify the types of trees so we know what to keep.
  • Dan will keep the Willis Park in mind as he meets with the City regarding Palmer Park.
  • Dan's going to forward some old pictures of the Park to Kirsten. She'll post it on our website and use it for drawing the plans.
  • Schedule our next meeting around April 15th-ish. (Tom)