Bishop John Henry Sheard of Greater Mitchell Temple COGIC in Detroit says his Church Is Committed to Helping Mayor Mike Duggan Maintain Abandoned Parks

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, left, Bishop John Henry Sheard watch Kimberly Jones, from the city's general grounds department, attach signage at Diack Park in Detroit where a City-Community Partnership will keep parks in the city. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, left, Bishop John Henry Sheard watch Kimberly Jones, from the city’s general grounds department, attach signage at Diack Park in Detroit where a City-Community Partnership will keep parks in the city. (Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)

Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday the city would maintain about 250 of its more than 300 parks during the summer — a significant increase from last year.

The city government has doubled to more than 150 workers from 75 employees the number of seasonal workers to maintain 186 city parks, Duggan said, exceeding a pledge of 150 parks he made in his Feb. 26 State of the City address. Another 65 community organizations and businesses have committed to keeping up other city parks.

City workers and community groups will tend 251 parks — or more than 80 percent of Detroit’s parks. By comparison, the Duggan administration estimates about 25 city parks were regularly maintained in 2013.

Duggan stood behind dozens of city ministers and business owners in making the announcement at the Greater Mitchell Temple Church of God in Christ on Curtis near Schaefer.

The mayor said during his brief remarks the conditions Detroit’s children endured last summer were unacceptable. He recalled seeing waist-high grass at some city parks where people mowed a pathway so children could get on a swing.

“Today is an indication of what the community can do when we all come together,” Duggan said. “City government doesn’t have the resources to do everything. The conditions that our children experienced in parks, particularly last summer, was not acceptable. It’s a lot better than last year. This is a case where you’re able to to put more service on the streets and in the parks for citizens. ”

Last spring, about 50 parks that were set for closure were spared by using federal block grant dollars, state and Wayne County funding. Then-Mayor Dave Bing said 119 of the city’s 300 parks were adopted by community groups, businesses, churches and block clubs.

There have been other efforts to adopt city parks over the years.

“This is nothing new. We’ve adopted this park five years ago,” said Bishop Edgar Vann, who also attended Tuesday’s press conference. “There’s been other kinds of opportunities for us to do so, and we took advantage of them. What we’re doing now is more formalizing this with other partners, churches and businesses to make it a citywide effort, and I’m happy to be a part of it and the vision the mayor has toward make the parks better.”

Still, during his State of the City speech, Duggan said the condition of city parks last summer was “embarrassing” and set a goal of recruiting faith leaders and businesses to open and maintain another 50 parks — which he exceeded.

“We’re going to keep talking about this over and over: City government can’t do everything,” Duggan said Tuesday. “We’re going to do a lot more than we’ve done, but we’re going to need community help. I’m not telling you it’s going to be perfect, but it will be better.”

Under the plan, groups that pledge to adopt parks agree to mow and weed their park every two weeks from May 1 until Oct. 31. They also agree to keep the park free of trash and debris. In exchange, the city will install a sign at each park with the group or business that’s adopted it.

Bishop John Henry Sheard of Greater Mitchell Temple COGIC said his church has committed to tending nearby Diack Park, which the city abandoned last year.

“The mayor understands how important neighborhood parks are to making our city a place where people want to live,” Sheard said in a statement. “It improves quality of life. It improves property values, and it improves public safety.”

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Source: Detroit News | DARREN A. NICHOLS

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