About People for Palmer Park

About People for Palmer Park

History and Background Information
People for Palmer Park (“PFPP”) grew out of strong neighborhood concern for the viability of Palmer Park (“the Park”), which was in part inspired by the City’s announcement in 2009 that it planned to close the Park. Led by enthusiastic tennis players, a grassroots movement of residents and neighbors from all surrounding communities began meeting and organizing. Many of those early organizers remain active with the PFPP.
PFPP was formed as a Michigan non profit corporation in April 2011, and has obtained its federal tax exemption, or charitable status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in November 2011. The organization has an elected board of directors comprised of 14 area residents, approved bylaws, monthly board meetings held since the spring of 2011, and held its first annual meeting in March of 2011. From the inception of the Board, there have been City official representatives from either Recreation Dept. or General Services Dept. serving on the board of directors.
PFPP has held two community charettes at the Unity Temple Church, where the essential goals and objectives of a 25-year master plan were presented. Those charettes were open to all neighbors, and were held in late 2010 and 2011. In addition, a community meeting was held at Gesu School earlier this year to gain additional community input. Finally, the PFPP annual meeting was held in March of this year, again to present the Master Plan and receive input. In all instances, the apple orchard was a part of those presentations. The board of directors in its bylaws has also designated committees including: Preservation and Beautification; Recreation and Special Events; Safety and Security; Fundraising and Membership; and Marketing and Communications.
Since late 2010, the following is a partial list of activities and improvements undertaken by the PFPP:
  • Cleared miles of impassable trails in the Park
  • Sponsors regular monthly (in season) Park clean-ups
  • Sponsors weekly bike rides and walks in the Park
  • Established a garden club to plant flowers and plants at entryways
  • Sponsors an architectural Walking Tour of the Park and surrounding historic apartment buildings in Palmer Park (600 people in attendance in 2013)
  • Sponsors a Harvest Fest, Children Storytime & Holiday Caroling Event since 2011
  • Sponsors a Winter Fest each year since February 2012 inclusive of children’s activities (sleigh rides), a doggie fashion show and more
  • Developed a natural compost area for neighborhood gardeners
  • Winterized, secured historic log cabin (removed all animal debris/cleaned interior).
  • Sponsored a Log Cabin Day fundraiser in June 2012 and Log Cabin Day event each year
  • Facilitated the removal and trimming of dead or invasive species in the Park
  • Supported the City’s annual fishing derby at the Park
  • Participated and supported the City’s development of an architectural marker at the entrance of the Park at Woodward and Six Mile
  • Raised $8000. to add landscaping, benches, bike racks and more to the new playscape installed by the City in the Park (2014)
  • Sponsored a neighborhood plant sale – May 2012
  • Planted an apple orchard with volunteers – May 2012
  • Outdoor free Yoga classes in the Park to every Saturday during the summer since June 2012 and a free yoga for kids class in 2014.
  • Established a USTA approved tennis program for children 10 and under, growing each year since, June 2012
  • Developed a website to inform the community of all activities
  • Built an urban educational garden with eight raised beds and pumpkin patch with the support of a grant and volunteers from Home Depot, summer 2014; hired a part-time farm manager, our first staff position.
Partnership with the City of Detroit
PFPP has developed a close partnership with the City of Detroit Recreation Dept. and the General Services Division and all of our activities have been done in full concert and communication with City representatives. We began our meetings with the City Recreation and GSD in the summer of 2011. We have presented a 25-Year Master Plan, which includes both a diagram plan as well as the specifications for the planned improvements, for their consideration and approval. Over the past year, we have no less than six meetings with City representatives including Alicia Minter, Brad Dick, Tim Karle, Craig Bristow (retired), Karen Petola (retired), Scott Brinkman, Trina Tucker and Ron Brundidge. In September 2011, five copies of the 25-Year Master Plan, Site Maps and Construction Forecast were delivered to Ms. Minter. In addition, minutes and attendee lists from the two community charettes were provided.
In September 2011, PFPP also submitted a Park Improvement Form for Playscape Improvements, which PIF was signed and approved by the Recreation Dept.
In January 2012, PFPP submitted a Park Improvement Form covering eight proposed improvements. Number 4. in that document is Sustainable Historic Varietal Orchard, which contains the following specific planned activities:
“Trim, prune, uplift, remove diseased, non native or soft wood invaders, per each orchard section, disk, harrow, plant fruit trees and install no mow native turf.” This section calls further for the planting of 1124 fruit trees.
This PIF was reviewed, with marked changes and signed and approved by Craig Bristow, and Alicia Minter on February 23, 2012.In January 2012, PFPP also submitted an Adopt-A-Park Application to the GSD in accordance with the City’s adoption procedure. We have received an approved form authoring a ten year adoption. The stated reason for this application… “To partner with the city for preservation and revitalization of Palmer Park.” In the spring of 2012, received a commitment from the City to have a regularized maintenance and lawn-cutting program at Palmer Park.
Planting of the Apple Orchard
A few facts abut the orchard: All 600-700 trees were donated to the People for Palmer Park. All labor to prepare, till, plant and fertilize the trees was voluntary. The PFPP intends to pay for and engage a watering truck to assure viability of the trees. We also intend to sponsor an apple harvest event to pick all the apples when ready.
We have had advice and assistance from a master gardener/horticulturist with the planting of these trees. Here are excerpt from his explanation and reiteration of the plan for the orchard:
“The purpose of this orchard is to help pay for the cost to maintain and improve the Park specifically along the guidelines that have been spelled out in the 25 Year Master Plan & Construction Forecast, which should also be posted on the PfPP web site.The Apples will be a part of the Mounted Police Horses diet, (apart from oats and hay they can only eat carrots and apples). They will benefit from organic food, while helping to save feed/food cost so that more horses can be added to the team/patrol. The once lawn area directly under the apples will be converted into a native low non flowering meadow grass mix that will have a height of 6-10″ only. The area will never need to be mowed again. This will save on fossil fuel consumption and save the trees from being scarred by an errant mower deck.The maintenance and upkeep will be minimal. Select pruning in spring to shape and maintain good health and airflow and then 1-2 day visits when the apples are right and ready for harvest. The rows have been perfectly spaced 18′ on center which at maturation will provide a service alley 9′ wide to drive up and down with the tractor, making the harvest via hay wagon as easy as reaching out and loading up. Harvest looks to be 4-6 weeks only.The surplus will be for donation/sale at Farm Direct prices, Honey crisps 320% less than at the local store, organic fresh from the vine with all donations being paid to PFPP, to be used for the Park Construction forecast.The trees will bear fruit this year as they are already 3-5 years old. Yields will be relatively low and should start to come in late Summer/Early fall.”

From our historic records, we have learned that the Palmer family maintained an orchard in the park. We believe we are returning the park to its natural historic use.

PFPP planted the orchard, is maintaining it, and assures the community that it will benefit from this beautiful and vital improvement to the Park.

2 Responses to “About People for Palmer Park”
  1. M. Tomich says:

    Way to go, PFPP! It is amazing to me that the opponents apparently have no issue with the previous condition of the orchard space–which I understood was overrun with weeds, etc. Now, when something positive is happening to this space, they are concerned. Something is wrong with that picture! As a child we had two apple trees in our relatively small backyard. Those never once did I see mice, rats, or other rodents. I wish I could live next to an orchard now.

    Best of luck in your efforts!

  2. P. Everett says:

    It is so refreshing to hear that Palmer Park will be going through this revitalization. It makes me think about when my children were growing up, spending time in the park, letting them experience fishing in the pond. This is wonderful. I hope that there is no roadblock to the plans that the PFPP have organized for this lovely park.

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