Huron-Clinton Metroparks to Open First Physical Location in Detroit

The 22-acre Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park will open along the West Riverfront next year.
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Rendering courtesy of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

On Tuesday, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Huron-Clinton Metroparks announced the name of one of four main attractions inside of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park — the Metroparks’ first physical location in the city of Detroit.

The attraction, a 2.5-acre water garden, will be named the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Water Garden and will open with the rest of the park along the West Riverfront in 2024.

“The naming of the Water Garden is incredibly exciting for us,” Amy McMillan, the Director of Huron-Clinton Metroparks said in a press release. “The Metroparks form a greenbelt of vibrant active and natural spaces around the metro Detroit region, but for decades there has been a gap in Metroparks presence within the city of Detroit.”

“We are finally making progress towards closing that gap and establishing a physical presence that residents can engage with daily,” she adds. “We know we still have a lot of work to do, but we are grateful for this strong partnership that is helping us realize progress towards that goal.”

The park is one piece of a larger project to develop 5.5 miles of the riverfront, and in addition to the water garden, will feature the William Davidson Sports House, which has two regulation basketball courts, a variety of animal structures for kids to play on at the Delta Dental Play Garden, and the DTE Foundation Lawn, which will be used for special events.

It will also offer walking paths, seating areas, educational signage, and open-air classrooms that will host nature programming, all of which provide ample opportunities for Detroiters to explore local waters.

The announcement comes the same week that the Metroparks unveiled a three-year strategic plan that outlines three areas of focus: “listen and connect,” maintain and invest,” and conserve and steward.”

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy began working together on programming back in 2015 before joining in a multi-year partnership in 2020.

Under this partnership, these organizations have been able to develop new programming, increase access to these programs, provide outreach to the community, and bring more people to the parks, greenways, and public spaces that they manage.

To date, one of their most successful efforts was the Swim in the D program, which helped teach 500 Detroit kids how to swim.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Huron-Clinton Metroparks on the Detroit Riverfront,” Mark Wallace, the president & CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy said in a press release.

“The partnership between the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Huron-Clinton Metroparks has already reached thousands of people in our region. For more than two years, we have been introducing Detroiters to the Metroparks and connecting Metroparks visitors to the Detroit Riverfront. Those numbers will continue to grow when we open the Water Garden at Ralph Wilson Park in 2024.”

For more information, visit the Huron-Clinton Metroparks online at metroparks.com or the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy at detroitriverfront.org. Find details on even more community development projects in metro Detroit at HourDetroit.com.