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President M. Roy Wilson gives speech at the park's grand opening

The Wayne State community hosted the grand opening of the long-awaited Woodward and Warren park in the Welcome Center on June 5.

The two-acre park, located on Woodward and Warren Avenue, is part of the Office of Economic Development’s placemaking initiative that started in 2014, Placed-Based Initiatives Manager Emily Thompson said.

Prior to the park’s construction, the plot of land was a grassy and vacant space right across the Welcome Center. Thompson said the university surveyed students and faculty about what they would like to see in that space. From the survey’s results, WSU was able to create the park.

According to a press release by WSU, the park took two years to plan and fully complete.

The park consists of seating, shade umbrellas and a staffed kiosk where maps of Midtown and virtual tours of the city will be available for park-goers, Thompson said. The park will also be used for events such as Noel Night, and Thompson hopes to plan more activities for the future.

The kiosk will operate Monday through Wednesday and on Saturday. The park will also have lawn games such as giant chess and cornhole, Thompson said.

President M. Roy Wilson said multiple businesses wanted to build on the park’s space, but he knew the value of the property and wanted to see the university using the space.

“I can’t think of anything better than what we have now,” Wilson said. “It’s a beautiful park — it’s comfortable. It serves a great purpose.”

Vice President of Economic Development Ned Staebler said they spent a lot of time looking at this location and its proximity to other resources such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and Detroit’s historic cultural district.

“The master planners decided it needed to be something really momentous, a really big thing for the university,” he said. “(The master planners) said there isn’t really something like that right now for the university, so you should turn it into a public space.”

Staebler said the project was not simple. In order to build the park, there needed to be enough money for it. The Office of Economic Development crowdfunded over $25,000 through the program Public Spaces, Community Places — a crowdfunding platform by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity.

According to Public Spaces, Community Places’ website, “local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC.”

Donations also came from organizations such as WSU Student Senate, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Detroit Public Library Foundation, Thompson said.

The park is in close proximity to the Farmers Market, which was meant to open alongside the park. However, due to the severe weather, the market will not open until June 11. 

Communication graduate students Brianna Jones and Taylor Nondorf said the park is a great addition to the community, and they hope to see students utilize it.

“I’ve been going to the Farmers Market on campus since I started school here,” Jones said. “To see the park and the market close together is nice to bring to the community.”


 

 Susana Hernandez is managing editor of The South End. She can be reached at susana.hernandez@wayne.edu