Local Businesses Pledge $14M, Keep Detroit Parks Open

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DETROIT — Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced today that local businesses and foundations have pledged $14 million to his Active and Safe Campaign to support recreational centers and programming. Additionally, Bing announced that all of the city’s parks will remain open this spring and summer as a result of reallocated funding, grants, and community support. 

Bing was joined at today’s news conference by Matthew Simoncini, president and CEO of Lear Corporation, which is donating $5 million over five years to support the city’s recreation centers and parks. The mayor and Simoncini were flanked by representatives from other corporations and foundations that have contributed money to the campaign: General Motors Co., Marathon Oil, UAW-Ford, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ford Motor Co., DTE Energy, Detroit International Bridge Company, Belle Isle Conservancy (Women’s Committee), McGregor Fund, and Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. In-kind donations are being made by AOL, Fifth Third Bank, VisionIT, and Vesco Oil.

“This is another great example of how the business community and foundations have stepped up to support the city in our efforts to improve the quality of life for our citizens,” Bing said. “Even in the midst of a major financial restructuring of the city, we must stay focused on basic needs. In just a couple of months, Detroit children will be out of school for the summer and it is vital that we provide recreational options that will help keep them active and safe.”

“At Lear, we are committed to supporting the communities where we do business,” Simoncini said. “We are proud to partner with the mayor to fund improvements in the parks and recreation facilities and programs that will benefit the citizens of Detroit, particularly our young people.” 

“We are grateful to the mayor for his commitment to recreation, and we thank the business and philanthropic community for supporting the Mayor’s vision for an active and safe Detroit,” Detroit Recreation Department Director Alicia Minter said. “The funding received through this partnership has enabled our department to enhance programming for all ages, but especially our youth and seniors.”

Last month, the corporate community stepped up to contribute $8 million to the public safety component of the Active and Safe Campaign. The money is being used to acquire 23 new ambulances for the Detroit Fire Department’s EMS unit and 100 new patrol cars for the Detroit Police Department. To date, a total of $22 million has been raised toward the $60 million goal of the three-year campaign.

In addition to the funds raised for the Active and Safe Campaign, Detroit’s General Services Department has received financial assistance from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wayne County, and the federal Community Development Block Grant Program to keep city parks open.  Earlier this year, Bing said 50 Detroit parks would have to close due to the City Council’s failure to approve a Belle Isle lease agreement with the state, which would have freed up funds and staff to maintain and operate city parks.

Several businesses, community groups, and residents also have come forward to adopt parks in order to keep them open.

We want to thank all of our wonderful partners who have adopted parks across the city,” said Brad Dick, director of the General Services Department. “Three years ago, Mayor Bing put out a call to service for residents and organizations to take a stronger interest in their parks. At that time, we only had 26 individuals and groups pledge to adopt parks. Today, that number has grown to 119.”

The General Services Department expects to begin mowing park lawns next month. High use parks will be mowed on a 10-14 day cycle, while parks with lower use will be cut on a three-week cycle. Permanent staff will be placed at five of the busiest parks — Palmer, Patton, Clark, Farwell and Lasky — to manage daily maintenance. In addition to employing eligible seasonal workers, Detroit is currently hiring employees to service all of the parks. 

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