The Friends of Fletcher Field have spent the last eight years maintaining the grass, landscaping, clearing litter and maintaining equipment at the public park in their east side neighborhood. According to the Detroit News, much of their hard work fell to city tractors this week in what officials called an effort to rid the park of "antiquated" equipment. Officials promise new equipment will replace the swings, slides and climbing structures destroyed this week, though the offer no date for installation. Many city parks have fallen into disrepair as Detroit works through bankruptcy. In many cases, neighbors have stepped in, not only maintaining the parks, but making them into treasures centers of community.
Neighbors play a strong role in making Clark Park one of the city's natural jewels. This southwest Detroit gem serves 1,200 youths annually with programming year round. The park also houses the city's sole regulation-sized outdoor ice hockey rink, and physically nourishes the community, offering daily free lunch to over a hundred schoolchildren in the summertime. This wasn't always the case—in the 90s, when the park was a trash-strewn eyesore, the city wanted to shut it down. Neighbors formed the Clark Park Coalition, which has transformed Clark Park into a community asset and today manages park operation.
Rudolph Szafraniec Playground
Photo via Bridge MI
On a far smaller scale than Clark Park, the west side's Rudolph Szafraniec Playground is sponsored by its neighbors, St. Francis D'Assisi Catholic Church and the Hope of Detroit Academy. The tiny park near Livernois and Michigan is tended entirely by church employee Jeff Stanton. The small playground, with its tidy lawn and brightly-painted mural and new play structures serves as an oasis for children year round.
·City Removes Fletcher Field Play Equipment [Detroit News]
·Clark Park [Clark Park]
·Programming in Clark Park Turning Neighborhood Kids into Engaged Citizens [Model D]
·Szfraniec Playground [Bridge MI]
·Fletcher Field's Transformation [MSU Engaged Scholar Magazine]