Stein Park received some big improvements first, and now another park in Detroit's Cody Rouge neighborhood is getting ready to do the same.
Greenview-Wadsworth Park sits on the grounds of a former school at 12101 Greenview Ave. site not far from the intersection of the 1-96 Expressway and the Southfield Freeway. Today the 2.48-acre park is mostly vacant land. For the last few years, however, an effort has been underway between the city and community partners to change that by bringing a walking path and other amenities to the recreation area. The City of Detroit is expected to begin work on the improvements this summer.
Mary Marsh, President of the Plymouth Southfield Community Association (PSCA), a local group that has been pushing for the changes since 2019, is excited about what this means for the neighborhood.
"I'm happy. I'm very happy," she says. "This community is growing, and we continue to grow. And we hope it makes our neighborhood a better neighborhood."
Greenview-Wadsworth Park.Good news for Greenview-Wadsworth
Right now, Stein Park, located at 18899 W. Chicago St., is Cody Rouge's go-to recreation area.
The park received a new track, football field, and playscape in 2016, due to the efforts of the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance
(CRCAA) and several partners like Detroit Parks and Recreation, Kaboom!, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, General Motors, Quicken Loans, and The Skillman Foundation. In 2020, it was upgraded even further with a new pavilion made possible by a $150,000 Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit (KIP:D) grant.
More improvements are on the way there as well. Cody Rouge CAA has hired local artist Fel'le, who runs the Fel'le Gallery in Live6 to paint a mural at Stein Park's racquetball court. Members of the nonprofit's Youth Council are also planning to build an amphitheater there with the assistance of Bart Eddy, founder and program director of the Brightmoor Makerspace program.
As for Greenview-Wadsworth Park, it will soon have its own amenities to brag about as well. Renovation plans call for new park entries, a walking loop, a playground, a picnic shelter, a basketball court, tree plantings, and site amenities like benches, tables, and trash receptacles.
The basketball court and playscape seem especially well positioned in the Cody Rouge-Warrendale community, an area that's estimated to have 12,000 school-age children
— one of the highest populations of youth in the city.
It's been a long journey for the park to be entering this new phase of existence. For many years, the site was home to Marsh Elementary School, a small school with a gym and auditorium designed to serve about 270 students. The school closed in the mid-2000s and was demolished in 2015.
Although the demolition removed a long-standing eyesore, Kenyetta Campbell, Director of Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance (Cody Rouge CAA) says residents were looking for more than an empty field at the site.
"The community really wanted to put a park there, because there's no place connected to the area for kids to play," she says. "And there's nowhere for the residents to gather other than the Weaver Arts Academy
To support the renovation of the park, Cody Rouge CAA secured a $10,000 RePlay initiative planning grant from ESPN in collaboration with LISC and Under Armour. It also connected PSCA with Motor City Grounds Crew (MCGC), a nonprofit group that maintains parks and green spaces throughout Detroit.
MCGC has a longstanding relationship with Cody Rouge CAA that started with them doing maintenance at Stein Park. Around 2018, they adopted Greenview-Wadsworth Park under a city-organized stewardship program
and started holding community cleanups there and maintaining the lawn.
"It was just open space that had nothing going on," says Joshua Arntson, MCGC director of operations. "We helped clean up the fenceline and picked up trash. We're still doing some maintenance there. We used to cut the grass there. But the city is actually cutting the grass [now]."
Plans for Wadsworth-Greenview Park upgrades. (Courtesy of Cody Rouge CAA)
Beyond basic maintenance, MCGC also built benches there and sponsored several youth sports events at Greenview-Wadsworth Park as well.
The nonprofit has also been part of the effort by Cody Rouge CAA and SPCA to bring upgrades to the park, taking part in the surveying of local residents to help determine what amenities they wanted to see there.
The City of Detroit has also been an integral part of what's going on. It will be funding the implementation of the project, which is budgeted at $603,000. Of those funds, $553,000 are coming from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $50,000 from a recent Wayne County millage.
"The General Services Department decided to pursue renovations at Greenview-Wadsworth Park because we were shovel ready and the park was a high priority defined in our Parks & Recreation Strategic Plan," says Raquel Harrington, Communications and Marketing Manager with the City of Detroit General Services Department. "The park renovations will have a major impact on the surrounding community to promote recreational benefits and contribute to the health and wellness of the community."
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and is expected to wrap up either this fall or early this coming spring.
Although it's been a bit of a wait to get shovels in the ground at Greenview-Wadsworth, Arntson is looking forward to seeing the upgrades become a reality.
"I'm just happy that it's finally happening," he says. "Ms. Mary Marsh and her group have been working so much to try and get this to happen for the neighborhood. It'll be great to be able to witness families being out there and able to enjoy it."
All photos by Steve Koss, unless otherwise noted.
Resilient Neighborhoods is a reporting and engagement series that examines how Detroit residents and community development organizations are working together to strengthen local neighborhoods. It's made possible with funding from the Kresge Foundation.