When you think of a place where you can go to enjoy yoga and tennis lessons, tai chi classes, bike trails and horse drawn carriages you may think of some foo-foo suburban area. The last place you would think this would be happening would be in Detroit, MI’s Palmer Park.
According to The Detroit News, just a few years ago Palmer Park “was a place for drinking, dealing drugs and prostitution,” but a nonprofit partnership and a group of dedicated caring volunteers has stepped in and began changing this park for the better so that the surrounding communities can have more opportunities within the city.
If it would have been up to the city, the park would’ve closed down in 2009 but here it is four years later and instead of being closed and turned into another empty area, a group of residents stood up and protested. Volunteers showed up to improve landscaping and raised money to have programs such as yoga, tennis lessons, tai chi, biking, horse carriages and even revamping the area’s playscape and baseball field so that children could come and play. Rochelle Lento board president for People for Palmer Park says, “this spring, People for Palmer Park will work with the city and a local baseball team to revitalize the playing fields with new fencing and bleachers.” Garrett Street, a school coach and director of baseball for the Legends League, teaches Detroit’s elementary school-age children positive life skills through baseball and will be keeping up the field while using it for home games. This will help improve children’s lives that otherwise would have no extracurricular activities and preventing them from being turned out into the streets of Detroit.
Also included in Palmer Park are beautiful planted fruit trees that will be eventually plucked and sold while turning the area into a farmers market. According to People for Palmer Park’s website, “The first phase of our sustaining restoration plan is to create projects that will generate resources for the park, including funding from sales of the fruit to local farmers’ markets and restaurants. People for Palmer Park will maintain the trees and ensure no fruit is wasted to decay on the ground! Any funds generated will go back into the maintenance of the park and to providing recreational programming.”
Palmer Park has a rich history, and according to Crocket McElroy in Souvenir History of Palmer Park: “About 110 acres of this land was laid out into a park by Olmstead & Elliot, under the general directions of Mrs. Palmer. The plan includes two lakes, several islands, pathways and between five and six miles of roads. In 1894 the Senator donated the first 120 acres that would become Palmer Park. The Palmers wanted it named Log Cabin Park but the City called it Palmer Park. By 1897 Palmer had donated the majority of the land we know as the Park. A portion of the Log Cabin farm was sold and became the Detroit Golf Club at the end of the 19th century. Thanks to volunteers, organizations and the People for Palmer Park this is a rich history they hope to continue to revitalize for many more decades to come.
I am happy to have this be the fourth good in the hood news story for my column series and hope that despite the many negative reports over the news in America, I can finally put a spotlight on those positive news items that often gets overlooked. Please contact me if you know of a positive news story in your area that you want reported. Don’t allow negativity you watch or read get you down. It’s better to get out there, open your eyes, meet people and find the positive news around you. You’ll never know what you may run into!