Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan

Let us know what you want for the future of Parks & Rec in Detroit

The Detroit Parks and Rec 2022 Strategic Plan is a document that guides the actions of Parks and Rec for the next 10 years. Every time a plan update is completed, the City of Detroit undergoes a process of community engagement to inform its recommendations. We will soon be in the third phase of this process for the 2022 plan update. In this phase we will be releasing the draft plan to the public and seeking Detroiter’s commentary. The purpose of public review is to answer questions, listen to comments, and maintain transparency with the public. Stay tuned for the plan’s release this Fall. 


Join our mailing list to receive a copy of the draft plan and be notified when you can meet to talk with us about it:



What we heard: FOCUS GROUPS

From March to July, we held a series of stakeholder and public focus groups based on the priorities identified in the city-wide surveys.  

Stakeholder Focus Groups explored the who and the how of implementing the goals outlined in the city-wide surveys. Participants considered the practicality of program changes such as healthy food options, mowing schedules to match area types, and extended hours for recreation centers. Many desires expressed in the City-Wide Survey faced logistical challenges to realization. Stakeholders attempted to address these challenges with creative solutions.

Stakeholder meetings included:
•    Access to Nature
•    Natural Resource Management
•    Adaptive Park Maintenance
•    Health & Rec
•    Parks & Rec Centers
•    Facilities & Programs
•    Safe Access in Parks & Rec
•    School +Libraries + Rec Centers
•    Rec Center Visioning Session
•    Parks & Rec Permitting Visioning Session
•    Parks & Rec Security Visioning Session
•    Parks & Rec Equity Visioning Session

Public Focus Groups commentary reinforced many sentiments expressed in the surveys, including the prioritization of quality maintenance, increased safety, increased effectiveness of marketing and communications and improved online resources. Participants provided many new insights into Detroit’s recreational needs including more youth and green job programs and participants also brought attention to the digital divide, offering a two-pronged solution of sending out rec program catalog mailers and increasing the consistency and ease of use of rec center websites. Public commentary also contributed to the broadening of several recommendations to allow for additional opportunities. For example, a recommendation regarding the expansion of parks and habitats was revised to remove the specificity of ideal acreage.

Public Focus Group meetings included:
•    Nature
•    Stewardship
•    Fitness & Athletics
•    Safe Access
•    Health & Resiliency
•    Equity

After completing all 27 of the focus group meetings, we are working on finalizing the recommendations developed in those meetings. The draft content will be opened for public review and discussion.



What we heard: SURVEY RESULTS

Thank you to everyone, a total of over 700 people, who responded to our city-wide parks and rec survey!  We learned a lot about what priorities residents have for their Detroit parks and recreation system.  Below is a quick summary of the results of the survey with the top 6 goals. 


Goal #1 Focus on Maintenance: Advocacy & Stewardship

Maintenance Stewardship

Well maintained, clean amenities and facilities were rated as the highest priority for residents, with 92% of respondents rating it as important or very important.  However, there were mixed reviews of experiences with the maintenance of parks, with:
•    Positive - 41%
•    Neutral - 22%
•    Negative - 37%
Indicating there is work to be done to improve our maintenance programs.

The majority of respondents, 60%, were part of a neighborhood organization, indicating an interest in park stewardship and continued advocacy on behalf of Detroit parks.


Goal #2 Ensure Access to Nature



In the nature and environment section, the two highest priorities were: maintenance of natural spaces (with 92% rated as important or very important) and access to natural spaces (with 90% rated as important or very important).

And respondents reported that the main issues keeping them from using natural spaces were:
•    Dumping / trash - 50%
•    Not knowing know where natural spaces are near me - 48%
•    Worry about visibility / sight lines - 36%
•    Not knowing what to do in these spaces - 13%


Goal #3 Expand Fitness & Athletics

Fitness Athletics





Year-round fitness opportunities was reported to be the third most important element to residents’ health and wellbeing in parks and rec., with 82% of respondents prioritizing it above physical health services, education on health/fitness and healthy food options.

Athletics was a top rated activity for parks (40%) and rec centers (43%), but may respondents also reported issues accessing athletics in neighborhoods, such as:
•    Lack of information 65%
•    Lack of options - 26%
•    Lack of availability (timing) - 13%
•    Cost/affordability - 8%
•    Lack of transportation - 8%


Goal #4 Invest in Resilient Centers & Health

Centers Health


People reported wanting their rec centers to do more than before, to be resilient resource centers that adapt to people’s changing needs, that can serve as:
•    Exercise/fitness center - 80%
•    A space to connect with community members - 60%
•    Youth center - 54%
•    Adult education venue - 45%
•    Resource center (for emergency distribution, etc.) - 44%
•    Sports/athletic space- 43%
•    Physical health services venue - 34%

Unsurprisingly, amidst a pandemic respondents reported public health as a vital component to the parks and recreation system. Priorities were safe social-distancing opportunities (83%), physical health services(62%), education on health (61%), healthy food options (59%), mental health services (46%), all of which were rated as important or very important.


Goal #5 Provide Safe Access

Safe Access

Residents reported that they want walkable access to parks, which feel safe.  Some concerns (in order of priority) were crime, blight and traffic along the route. And the majority of residents reported that they have walked (84%) or biked (66%) to their local park, and 88% reported having used a Greenway in Detroit, such as the Riverwalk or Dequindre Cut. 

Top reported priorities were:
•    Walkable access to parks 91%
•    Safe biking routes - 89%
•    Trails for fitness opportunities - 88%
•    Access for residents with disabilities and limited mobility - 83%
•    Easy access (walkwable or by transit) to rec centers 76%


Goal #6 Assess equity



The number one reason that keeps residents  from using the Detroit parks and recreation system is lack of information about what is available.  For parks 42% of all responses reported not using parks because they did not know what was available, for rec centers it was 63%, and rec programs were even higher, at 66%.  Collaborative marketing and working together to get the word out about parks and rec is critical to addressing this barrier and ensuring equal access.

An essential goal throughout the survey was to provide a parks and recreation system that is welcoming to all.  Along with Increasing awareness, other suggestions included Improving the permitting process, adding spaces/activities for teens, and ensuring safety without excluding groups.


A focused look at the East Riverfront parks and properties

As part of the Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan update, the City is conducting a comprehensive study of Detroit’s East Riverfront Assets (ERAS), between Hart Plaza and St. Jean.

Find a Park Near You

Explore Detroit parks through this web app. You can search where you would like to go and find the closest city parks. And filter by amenity to find what you would like to do in a park – such as a playground for kids, a walking path with a bathroom or a dog park.


City of Detroit PARKS & REC


For more information on the Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan please contact Juliana Fulton [email protected] (313) 744-3202