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Should Spirit of Detroit Plaza become a permanent park?

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 17:59:07-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Two years ago the city of Detroit shut down Woodward right next to City Hall and turned it into a park. It was called an experiment. Now the question is: Should it become permanent?

Because it is temporary, right now Woodward remains under the park. The road’s curbs are there and even stop signs. If it were made a permanent park, city leaders tell me they would change that.

Now it is up to City Council, which is divided.

Hussein Mann says he enjoys the food trucks and dancing events held at the Spirit of Detroit Plaza

“People are cheerful and happy and that is what we need in any city,” said Mann.

He says he would like to see it become a permanent park, but not everyone agrees.

When Detroit City Council voted on it on Tuesday with one member absent, four voted for - and four members against it.

The reason for the divide seems to be across the street.

“I can’t support spending $800,000 on a plaza they are making when we have one right across the street,” said Councilwoman Janeé Ayers.

Ayers says the city needs to spend more money improving Hart Plaza because it can serve more people and makes the city money when it is rented out.

“If we are going to spend more money we need to put it in something that is going to give us a higher return,” said Ayers.

Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield agrees. She also says she voted against it because she wants to see the results of a commissioned study on how Detroit can best use its parks first.

“And until that study is done we can do a year to year permit and allow the plaza to still operate, but not on a permanent basis,” suggested Sheffield.

“We recognize we have some attention that needs to be paid to Hart Plaza,” said Erica Hill, who manages special events and programming in Detroit.

She says there is a long term plan to improve Hart Plaza.

“Spirit Plaza and Hart Plaza do not do the same thing,” she says.

She says you will find small free concerts, community events and dance lessons at the Spirit of Detroit Plaza and larger events with a fee at Hart Plaza.

For now the Spirit of Detroit Plaza will remain a temporary park, but that could change as soon as next week. City Council may vote again when all 9 members are in attendance.