WASHINGTON – In partnership with the City of Detroit, the National Park Foundation (NPF) and the National Park Service (NPS) Midwest Region are embarking on a strategic planning and community engagement project to revitalize Historic Fort Wayne. The project aims to improve recreational and cultural opportunities for Southwest Detroit residents at this landmark 83-acre site on the Detroit River that features a star-shaped fort built in 1843.
The project comes as the National Park Service concludes its centennial year, and has advanced an Urban Agenda to increase the relevance of the federal agency during its second century. Recognizing that 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas today, the federal agency deployed urban fellows to 10 U.S. cities in 2015 to provide programming help and expertise—including Detroit.
“NPS is keenly aware of our need to reach out to urban partners to create close-to-home recreational and cultural opportunities and to steward historic assets of national significance such as Historic Fort Wayne,” said Jeff Reinbold, NPS’ Assistant Director for Partnerships and Civic Engagement. “The waterfront location makes this asset accessible to local and national residents, as well as, international tourists." Reinbold oversees the Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program in Washington, which supports several ongoing recreation projects in Detroit.
The Kresge Foundation, which seeks to expand opportunity in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing, recently awarded a $265,000 grant for the two-year project through its Detroit Program.
“For nearly 175 years, Historic Fort Wayne has stood as a cultural and historical landmark, today attracting some 150,000 visitors a year, from neighborhood soccer leagues to Civil War re-enactments,” said George Jacobsen, senior program officer in Kresge’s Detroit Program. “As we think about its place in the fabric of Detroit now and in the future, Historic Fort Wayne holds great promise as an active and connected point for the Southwest Detroit and broader communities to recreate, as a space to celebrate contributions of multiple cultures, and as a potential location to support the development of small and creative-sector businesses.”
“This is a great opportunity for the National Park Service to partner with the local community, making sure Historic Fort Wayne’s rich cultural and historic resources are well-utilized for Detroit’s own residents,” said Susan Newton, senior vice president of grants and programs at the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks.
NPS Urban Fellow David Goldstein, an anthropologist and Park Service ranger who grew up in the Detroit metro area, will serve as the interim project director before a consultant is hired in the spring. The grant will fund a consultant to work with city officials to develop a comprehensive strategic plan, including a timeline for implementation, by December 31, 2017.
Goldstein will establish an advisory group of public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders to guide the planning process. The consultant will also be charged with creating a leasing program for the City of Detroit, which will allow for the renovation and use of the more than 30 military buildings in the fort complex. An RFP is expected to be released by spring 2018 to seek proposals from prospective tenants, including community and cultural organizations, to renovate and lease buildings on the fort grounds.
Fort Wayne, with a rich Native American and military history, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The historic site has been owned by the City of Detroit since 1974, and is operated by the Parks and Recreation Department with assistance from the non-profit Historic Fort Wayne Coalition. The National Park Service provides guidance regarding use and restoration of the historic property.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.
ABOUT THE KRESGE FOUNDATION
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2015, the Board of Trustees approved 370 grants totaling $125.2 million, and nine social investment commitments totaling $20.3 million. For more information, visit kresge.org.
National Park Service
National Park Foundation
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W. Kim Heron
Interviews with NPS Urban Fellow David Goldstein can be arranged.