ABOUT PEOPLE FOR PALMER PARK
Our history, our vision, our plans.
People for Palmer Park ("PFPP") grew out of strong neighborhood concern for the viability of Palmer Park ("the Park"), which was in part inspired by the City's announcement in 2009 that it planned to close the Park. Led by enthusiastic tennis players, a grassroots movement of residents and neighbors from all surrounding communities began meeting and organizing. Many of those early organizers remain active with PFPP today.
PFPP was formed as a Michigan non-profit corporation in April 2011, and obtained its federal tax exemption, or charitable status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in November 2011. The organization has an elected Board of Directors comprised of area residents, approved bylaws, monthly board meetings held since the spring of 2011, and annual public meetings since March 2011. From the inception of the Board, there have been City official representatives from either the Recreation Department or General Services Department serving on the Board of Directors.
In 2011, PFPP and the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, under the guidance of General Services, began exploring a potential partnership agreement. PFPP and the Detroit City Department of Parks and Recreation, which retains policy control, has discretion over all user permits and events in the park, and provides the current field staff, have been discussing collaboration structures to keep Palmer Park open and sustainable.
Activities and Improvements
The following is a partial list of activities and improvements undertaken by PFPP since late 2010:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
Partnership with the City of Detroit
PFPP has developed a close partnership with the City of Detroit Recreation Dept. and the General Services Division and all of our activities have been done in full concert and communication with City representatives. We began our meetings with the City Recreation and GSD in the summer of 2011. We have presented a 25-year Master Plan, which included both a diagram plan as well as the specifications for the planned improvements, for their consideration and approval. In that year, there were no less than six meetings with City representatives including Alicia Minter, Brad Dick, Tim Karle, Craig Bristow (retired), Karen Petola, (retired), Scott Brinkman, Trina Tucker and Ron Brundidge. In September 2011, five copies of the 25-year Master Plan, Site Maps and Construction Forecast were delivered to Ms. Minter. In addition, minutes and attendee lists from the two community charettes were provided.
In September 2011, FFPP also submitted a Park Improvement Form for Playscape Improvements, which was signed and approved by the Recreation Department.
In January 2012, PFPP submitted a Park Improvement Form covering eight proposed improvements. Number 4 in that document is Sustainable Historic Varietal Orchard, which contains the following specific planned activities:
"Trim, prune, uplift, remove diseased, non-native or soft wood invaders, per each orchard section, disk, harrow, plant fruit trees and install no-mow native turf." This section calls further for the planting of 1124 fruit trees.
This PIF was reviewed, with marked changes and signed and approved by Craig Bristow, and Alicia Minter on February 23, 2012. In January 2012, PFPP also submitted an Adopt-a-Park Application to the GSD in accordance with the City's adoption procedure. We have an approved form authoring a ten year adoption "To partner with the City for preservation and revitalization of Palmer Park." In the spring of 2012, we received a commitment from the City to have a regularized maintenance and lawn-cutting program at Palmer Park.
Planting the apple orchard
From our historic records, we have learned that the Palmer family maintained an orchard in the Park. We believe we are returning the Park to its natural historic use.
A few facts about the orchard: All 600-700 trees were donated to the People for Palmer Park. All labor to prepare, till, plant and fertilize the trees was voluntary. The PFPP intends to pay for and engage a watering truck to assure viability of the trees. We also intend to sponsor an apple harvest event to pick all the apples when ready. We have had advice and assistance from a master gardener/horticulturist with the planting of those trees.
PFPP planted the orchard, is maintaining it, and assures the community that it will benefit from this beautiful and vital improvement to the Park.
Restoration, Preservation, Sustainability and Beautification
PFPP is in the process of developing plans to restore Palmer Park to its former splendor as envisioned by its 19th-century designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles Eliot, and the park’s benefactors. What is unique about our redevelopment concept is that it incorporates a design of self-sustainability with the intent to create a park that can pay for its own maintenance and improvements. The plan is a work in progress and will be updated as changes are implemented. PFPP has developed short and long-term fundraising priorities and will begin with the restoration of the log cabin, historic fountain, tennis courts, Lake Frances wetlands, and the boundary of the park, as well as establishing long-term operating support.
Beyond the restoration, preservation, and beautification goals, PFPP plans to develop future public programing that will draw on the invaluable resources in Palmer Park and provide education, recreation, and volunteer opportunities for children, teenagers, adults, families, community organizations, and schools. In addition, the PFPP will provide visitor services in the park.
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