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50 Detroit parks to remain open, mayor announces

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Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced 50 city parks will remain open Wednesday morning. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced 50 city parks will remain open Wednesday morning.
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DETROIT (WJBK) -

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced Wednesday that "all of the city's parks will remain open this spring and summer."

"It didn't appear we would be able to afford to operate and maintain 50 parks after the plan to lease Belle Isle to the state was not approved by City Council.  However, we've been able to reallocate funds and use federal block grant money and funding from the State of Michigan and Wayne County to keep all of our parks open.  In addition, 119 community groups, businesses, churches and block clubs have stepped up to adopt parks."

Several donors are making substantial contributions to support recreation in the city, including Lear Corporation, which will donate $5 million to recreation centers and parks over the next five years.  UAW Ford is making repairs and donating a state of the art baseball diamond at Balduck Park.  Meanwhile, AOL is supplying 72 laptop computers for 13 recreation centers.

Many more organizations are making building repairs and enhancing youth and day camps at local parks.  Residents said it's exactly what the city needs.

"Honestly, I think that's amazing.  I think children need parks, communities need parks, and it's great to know that we're willing to not just make that a line item on the budget, but willing to say we believe in communities," said Robert Hammond.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic.  I think when neighborhoods can be defined by their parks and where people can go and hang out where it's free of charge, where people can connect and gather, and that the grass is being cut and that the swing sets are being maintained, I mean it helps everything about a neighborhood, said Amy Kahul.

"We are starting to change the conversation about our city.  People are starting to get engaged.  They see good things starting to happen, and so I'm so pleased with the kind of support that we're getting from businesses and foundations that now people are coming to the table," Bing said.

It's not the first time corporate sponsors have played a major role in Detroit's growth.  Last month, local business owners donated $8 million for new ambulances and patrol cars.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will have to sign an executive order to keep the 50 parks open, but his office tells Fox 2 he will sign it quickly.

This announcement also means the city is hiring, effectively looking for seasonal and full-time park staff.  For more information, visit Room 301 at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center during business hours to pick up an application.

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