WUOMFM

Detroit launches $12 million neighborhood parks overhaul

Jul 12, 2016

Detroit is launching a two-year investment campaign in some neighborhood parks, starting with a park named for a murdered civil rights activist.

Viola Liuzzo was the Detroit activist and mother killed by Ku Klux Klan members near Selma, Alabama in 1965.

The northwest Detroit park that that honors her was dedicated in 1982, but had fallen into disrepair.

Now, it stands to get almost $1 million in upgrades, from new playscapes and picnic shelters to some functional landscaping.

Palencia Mobley, deputy director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, says that will include some “green infrastructure” in the form of three bioretention areas. That helps prevent combined sewer overflows that can overwhelm the water treatment plant during intense rainfalls.

“They’ll look like beautiful flower gardens. But what they’re doing is they’re managing stormwater that comes in off the street,” Mobley said.

Liuzzo’s grandson, Joshua Liuzzo, said her life remains “a huge inspiration” that merged “empathy and action.”

“My family is proud to uphold the Liuzzo name,” he said. “Now everyone involved in this revitalization, and usage of this park, can proudly call it theirs too.”

The city plans to spend nearly $12 million upgrading a total of 10 neighborhood parks this summer, and 30 more next summer.

Support for the Detroit Journalism Cooperative on Michigan Radio comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism's Michigan Reporting Initiative, the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.