Park Conversions

Flyer for Park Conversion Discussion at Citywide DONCast
What is a Park Conversion?

Here are some terms that will help make the future park conversions easier to understand:

ENCUMBER (encumbered, encumbrance): This refers to public parkland that the City has accepted Federal or State funding to either improve or acquire that has restricted the sale or use of the property,

CONVERSION (converted): The sale of public parkland as a whole or in part. 

MITIGATE (mitigated, mitigation): New parkland the City is using to settle a conversion debt. (Not to be confused with Environmental Mitigation)

What are Conversion Activities?

We use the phrase "Conversion Activities" to summarize existing or proposed parkland that is active in the conversion process, these parks are either conversions and mitigations. Either the sale or development of existing public parkland will trigger a conversion that the City will be responsible for repaying or the City is proposing a new mitigated park to settle outstanding conversion debt.


When the City is awarded certain State and/or National grant funding to improve public parkland, it becomes encumbered as per the terms of the grant agreement.  Most commonly, certain parks grants permanently restrict use to outdoor recreation purposes only- meaning no buildings, no businesses, nothing private will ever be allowed on the property again.

The City conducts regular financial evaluations of its land holdings and sometimes it is determined that the highest and best use of an existing park for the taxpayers includes sale of the property.  Regardless of whether it is the entire park parcel or only a portion, if the parkland is encumbered, the transaction triggers the conversion process.  The government entity that awarded the grant funding (the Grantor) is due financial compensation for the violation of their grant agreement- public interest or not.  Sometimes this is settled with direct financial payment, other times a new replacement park is purchased and developed. The proposed replacement is the mitigation site/park.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is responsible for enforcing the terms of the agreement and ensuring the Grantor receives just compensation.  This includes review of proposed improvements and a series of environmental assessments.  In many cases, the State will determine certain actions are necessary to ensure public safety prior to accepting the mitigated park.  Once these issues are resolved and the mitigation is approved,  the conversion debt is considered settled. 

What are the upcoming conversion activities being discussed?

There are conversions in progress for three Midtown parks: Wick, Wigle, and Brush-Adelaide.

Wigle Park, Wick Park and Brush-Adelaide Park



The former Rogell Golf Course in Northwest Detroit is a mitigated park being used to settle conversion debt.   This can be confusing because environmental mitigation also took place on the property. When we say "mitigation or mitigated park", we are referring to the conversion process. For more information on the project, go to

Future Site of Rogell Park