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Thursday, April 15, 2021 12:34 PM | Helen Gales (Administrator)

Detroit Parks & Recreation 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. Scroll down to learn more about the next phase of the Parks & Rec Plan to join a focus group and stay involved. 

Goal #1 Focus on Maintenance: Advocacy & 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 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
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
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%
  • 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
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 (walkable 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.

What’s next? FOCUS GROUPS
The next phase of the Parks and Rec Strategic Plan is a series of focus groups based on the priorities identified in the surveys. 
If you are interested in joining one of the focus groups listed below, please follow this link:


  1. Maintenance & Stewardship
  2. Nature
  3. Fitness & Athletics
  4. Health & Centers
  5. Safe Access
  6. Equity

Focus Groups are meeting through the end of July.

The next newsletter will be coming out later this summer with a draft plan and set of recommendations for public review. Current information can be found on the website at detroitmi.gov/parksplan


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