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The Future of Detroit's Largest Park

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The Friends of Rouge Park, along with students and faculty from Lawrence Tech, unveiled the early drafts of their master plan for Rouge Park recently. Rouge Park is, in my opinion, incredibly important simply because it is largest park in Detroit.

To put Rouge Park's size in perspective, at 1,184 acres all of Belle Isle, Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park could fit inside of it -- with 187 acres left over. With that in mind, I wanted to share a summary of the ideas under consideration. For each option, please feel free to click the hyperlink for more details.

One of the key elements in their master plan is to restrict the access of cars to Rouge Park. At first, cars will be limited to only one lane of travel in each direction on all of the roads currently running through the site. Parking will also be restricted in certain areas. There is also a proposal to ban cars outright from the park, if they non-profit can identify funding for park and ride shuttles that will take people from the entrance points to each of the other destinations in the park.

The idea of an outright ban is probably an overreach. Regardless, restricting cars in Rouge Park will mitigate several of the problems that the park is currently facing. You can read more on cars in Rouge Park here.

A huge problem that Rouge Park has is the fact that most visitors to the park don't know what is there. Each amenity -- such as the archery range, mountain bike trail, or horse stables -- has its own set of hardcore users. However, with the majority of park users not knowing where everything else in the park is located or even all that it's available, most things in the park never live up to their potential usage.

A better means of way-finding throughout Rouge Park will do a lot to remedy these problems. Plus, in comparison to the other challenges that need to be overcome, this is the simplest and easiest of fixes. Their plan is to create improved signage, maps, and other means of helping visitors find their way around the park.

There is also a proposal to create new amenities for the park, such as a disc golf course on vacant parkland near the corner of W. Warren Avenue and Outer Drive. This would be similar to one that may or may not come to Belle Isle.

Finally, the nonprofit also plans to construct an observation tower on top of one of the hills in Rouge Park. This would not also be a signature feature for Detroit's largest park. It would be an awesome amenity since, on a clear night, visitors can already see downtown from this hill, even though it's 14 miles away. Adding a tower would enable visitors to see even more of Detroit.

I will continue to have more coverage as this plan begins to materialize, both here and on the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.