The Rocket Community Fund recently announced a $280,000 grant to Project EverGreen to support park renovation projects in Detroit. The donation is the largest received to date by the national nonprofit whose mission is to promote a greener, healthier, cooler Earth by creating and maintaining underserved urban green spaces.
Parks, playgrounds, playing fields, community gardens and other green spaces are the “lungs of a city,” and the Rocket Community Fund is making breathing a little easier for residents of its hometown of Detroit.
“We know the importance of inclusive, vibrant public spaces, now more than ever,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund. “Our partnership to develop Antonio McDuffy Park will unlock a new space where residents can come together safely and build strong social bonds that will support the resiliency of the entire city. We are proud to have worked closely with local leadership, partners and residents to envision and execute together.”
Funds from the grant will be used to renovate and provide significant upgrades to Detroit’s Antonio McDuffy Park (formerly Philadelphia Park), located in the city’s New Center Historic District. The park serves as an important community gathering space for residents of the Piety Hill neighborhood. It was re-named for Tony McDuffy, a beloved neighborhood resident who was a tireless advocate for the community.
The renovation work will double the size of the park to about 1.5 acres, as the city recently acquired adjacent lots from both the Central Detroit Christian CDC and private property owners. Demolition of a vacated alley and grading work will extend the park at the corner of W. Philadelphia St. and 3rd Ave. West toward W. Euclid St.
Preliminary survey work on the project was completed this year, but the bulk of the work was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Work on the project is scheduled to kick off on June 5 with a community event and the ribbon cutting is scheduled for June 30.
The project will include a new 1/8-mile concrete walkway, a new inclusive playground, new picnic tables, grills, bike racks, benches and a horseshoe pit. Additionally, new trees will be planted, and an open grass play area will be created.
“We are pleased to be able to collaborate on a new park space that brings communities together in the Piety Hill neighborhood,” said Brad Dick, group executive, services and infrastructure, City of Detroit. “Our goal is to make sure that our parks represent the communities they serve, and we are also proud to rename the park after longtime community advocate Tony McDuffy.”
Project EverGreen and the Rocket Community Fund plan to work with the City to identify additional park renovation projects in the city in 2021 and beyond.
“Parks play a vital role in the health and well-being of youth and adults alike, a fact never more evident than during the pandemic. Connecting people to their parks enhance social well-being, relationships, safety and environmental health,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Together with Rocket Community Fund’s generous grant and in collaboration with the City of Detroit, local businesses and the residents of Piety Hill, we can create a healthy, thriving park for generations to come.”
Additional sponsors and supporters of the project include Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan; Magna/Magna Seating; Premier Group Associates; PEA Group; The Davey Tree Expert Co.; and Re-Tree, LLC.