Detroit's Palmer Park launches splash pad--with a little help from firefighters

Aug 18, 2013

Firefighters to the rescue: Kids get wet at Palmer Park, despite a water main break.
Firefighters to the rescue: Kids get wet at Palmer Park, despite a water main break.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but there was still a major celebration at Detroit’s Palmer Park Sunday.

Hundreds of people showed up for the launch of a splash park there—but found conditions were drier than expected because of a broken water main.

But, the city improvised. While workers tackled the problem, Detroit fire trucks came in to spray the kids, who didn’t seem to mind at all.

The new splash pad is courtesy of the Lear Corporation, which built it in just six weeks.  It’s part of Mayor Dave Bing’s effort to bring in private funds to refurbish the city’s parks and recreation centers.

“This money will stay outside of city government, so we can make sure the money will be spent on the rec centers and parks,” Bing said.

Bing says that campaign has raised $12 million so far, $5 million from Lear alone. Bing sat on Lear’s board for several years.

The launch was also a victory for the non-profit group People for Palmer Park, which works continuously to spruce up one of Detroit’s premier parks, and helped design the splash pad.

Palmer Park’s old pool equipment was scrapped several years ago. And group President Rochelle Lento says the splash park needs watchful eyes to make sure it stays intact.

“We need everyone in here to be our ambassador,” Lento said. “If you see anyone damaging this water park, if you see anyone using it inappropriately…you have a responsibility to this park and this city to say, ‘No, this park belongs to the people.’”