The city of Detroit, Michigan is working to reorganize two of its greatest assets – public land and green space. Our city has 131,000 vacant lots, over 100 abandoned public school sites, and 95 small parks under an acre, all of which require continued stewardship.
Recognizing new patterns of growth in the city, we aim to act more efficiently with the public land that we have. Unlike buildings, public parks and green
spaces are flexible and can be quickly repositioned without incurring large costs. Detroit has an opportunity that most cities do not have – to reposition public parks where neighborhoods need them most.
Like many American cities, Detroit has a legacy of neighborhood mini parks under an acre that have fallen out of use due to poor location or lack of resources. In addition, maintenance is the largest expense in the public park budget.
With “Give a Park, Get a Park” Detroit seeks to offer more populated neighborhoods a better urban park experience that minimizes maintenance expenses while maximizing accessibility and enhancing public life.
In this project the City of Detroit will “give a park” – offer to sell a mid-block, decommissioned mini-park to adjacent community residents, allowing residents
to increase financial equity and physical stake in their neighborhoods. The same neighborhood will then “get a park” – a larger park comprising vacant, city-owned corner lots less than a mile from the former park.
This new park will be planned and designed through a combined community engagement process and innovative design competition. The “Give a Park, Get a Park” project will pilot a strategy for better-positioned, high-quality, and unique public spaces without significantly raising maintenance costs.
It will also serve as a broad-based community engagement effort that asks Detroit residents what they want to see in their neighborhood park – and delivers through thoughtful engagement and dialogue.
Lastly, it will stimulate the local, regional, and national design communities by inviting the brightest designers to join Detroit residents in realizing better neighborhood parks.