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Earlier this month, the dedication of Antonio McDuffy Park at the corner of W. Philadelphia St. and 3rd Ave. in Detroit marked the culmination of an ambitious project to increase community connection, promote the benefits of parks and public green spaces, and improve the health and well-being of area residents.

Located in the city’s New Center Historic District, McDuffy Park (formerly Philadelphia Park) is an important community gathering space for residents of the Piety Hill neighborhood. It was re-named for Tony McDuffy, a beloved neighborhood resident who was a tireless advocate for the community.

“We bring people together to make a difference in communities. We are determined to improve neighborhood parks since they play such an important role in establishing confidence and community pride, offer an outlet for physical and mental well-being, and benefit the  environment,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen to a gathering of neighborhood residents, donors, volunteers, city officials and the McDuffy family. “It is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Tony McDuffy that this park bears his name.”

Detroit, Antonio McDuffy Park Makeover

(Photo: Project EverGreen)

 

A new 1/8-mile concrete walkway, inclusive playground, picnic tables, grills, bike racks, benches and a horseshoe pit were part of the nearly $300,000 project that will double the size of the park to about 1.5 acres. Additionally, the planting of new trees will provide needed shade and cooling in the heat of the summer, and a new open grass play area were also completed.

A boost to the health and well-being of the neighborhood, green spaces such as parks, playgrounds, playing fields and community gardens are the “lungs of a city,” providing relief from the heat, filtering stormwater and capturing carbon that results in cleaner air. A vibrant park will also raise home values and serve as a catalyst for future development.

“I know Tony would so be amazed at what is going on here today and I want to thank all who had a part in making this happen,” said Wendy McDuffy, wife of the late Tony McDuffy, who along with her daughters and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan cut the ceremonial ribbon.

The Antonio McDuffy Park project is a collaborative effort between local business and civic organizations, neighborhood residents, Mayor Duggan’s office and Project EverGreen, a national non-profit that is dedicated to revitalizing urban green spaces to create greener, healthier cooler parks. The makeover aligns with Mayor Duggan’s progressive ongoing initiative to renovate the city’s parks hoping to reduce blight and restore community pride.

“I can’t think of a better way to honor Antonio McDuffy’s legacy in the Piety Hill neighborhood than to dedicate this beautiful new park in his name,” said Mayor Duggan. “The project is a perfect example of what Antonio stood for, which was the community coming together to create something special that will benefit this neighborhood for generations to come. We are all deeply grateful to Project EverGreen and the Rocket Community Fund for their partnership in making this day possible.”

The Rocket Community Fund provided a $280,000 grant to Project EverGreen to support the renovation.

Detroit, Antonio McDuffy Park Makeover

(Photo: Project EverGreen)

“We know the importance of inclusive, vibrant public spaces now more than ever,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund. “Our partnership to develop Antonio McDuffy Park will unlock a new space where residents can come together safely and build strong social bonds that will support the resiliency of the entire city. We are proud to have worked closely with local leadership, partners and residents to envision and execute together.”

Additional sponsors and supporters of the project include Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan; Magna/Magna Seating; Premier Group Associates; PEA Group; The Davey Tree Expert Co.; Central Detroit Christian CDC; and Re-Tree, LLC.

“Parks play a vital role in the health and well-being of youth and adults alike, a fact never more evident than during the pandemic. Connecting people to their parks enhance social well-being, relationships, safety and environmental health,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Together with Rocket Community Fund’s generous grant and in collaboration with the City of Detroit, local businesses and the residents of Piety Hill, we have created a healthy, thriving park for generations to come.”

Project EverGreen and the Rocket Community Fund plan to work with the city to identify additional park renovation projects in the city in 2021 and beyond.