Newly renamed Dennis Archer Greenway will help connect East Side Detroiters with the Riverwalk

This article is part of Inside Our Outdoors, a series about Southeast Michigan's connected parks, greenways, and trails and how they affect residents' quality of life. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

A soon-to-be-completed Detroit greenway has been renamed in honor of former mayor Dennis Archer.

Once finished, the Dennis Archer Greenway, previously known as the Joseph Campau Greenway, will run along a formerly vacated stretch of Joseph Campau Street on Detroit's East Side between Vernor Highway and the Detroit Riverwalk. 

Mayor Mike Duggan celebrated Detroit City Council's approval of the new greenway's name with Archer at a July 28 ceremony. Archer, who currently lives on Detroit's East Side, served as Detroit's mayor from 1994 to 2001. The first portion of the Detroit Riverwalk was dedicated during his time in office as part of the city's 300th birthday celebration.

Because the $4.9 million greenway is being financed with federal Community Development Block Grant funds, the project is being overseen by Detroit's Housing and Revitalization Department. Betsy Palazzola, the agency's manager of resilientDennis Archer Greenway public infrastructure, says the purpose of the new 1.2-mile greenway is to provide convenient non-motorized access to the riverfront to residents of Elmwood Park neighborhood, many of whom are seniors.

"This greenway is a little different from a brand-new greenway in that we renovated existing paths through a lot of the apartment complexes over in the Elmwood Park area," she says. "It wasn't designed to be a regional attraction; it was really designed to provide a service to people who live there."

By linking with the Riverwalk, the new greenway will also make it easier for residents to connect with other parts of the city's nonmotorized network, like the Dequindre Cut. It will also make it easier for neighborhood residents to reach a variety of amenities between McDougall and Chene streets. One of these local attractions will undoubtedly be the nearby Coleman A. Young Community Center, which is set to reopen in September with new tennis and basketball courts. 

One of the biggest highlights on the greenway will be a new pedestrian plaza between Larned Street and East Jefferson Avenue. It will also feature a number of other amenities that were established with input from community residents, including raised sidewalks across Larned and Lafayette streets, new benches and lighting, mile markers, outdoor power stations, security cameras and emergency call boxes, and green stormwater infrastructure to help prevent flooding.

Construction on the first sections of the greenway, which were made accessible to the public last year, kicked off in 2019. Work on the final stretch of the project, a section between East Jefferson and Robert Bradby Drive, should be completed by the end of this year. Once it's completed, maintenance of the greenway will be shared by Detroit's General Services Department and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Neighborhood residents are encouraged to celebrate the new nonmotorized path at a back-to-school-themed strolling event on Aug. 19 from 4 to 7 p.m., which will begin at the Dennis Archer Greenway and Robert Bradby Drive and finish at Robert C. Valade Park.
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David Sands is a Detroit-based freelance writer. He's covered the news for Huffington Post Detroit as an assistant editor and worked as a staff writer for the transportation news site Mode Shift. Follow him on Twitter @dsandsdetroit.