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City of Detroit removing 251 trees from AB Ford Park after finding metal, plastic in soil

Will be replacing soil and planting nearly 600 new trees
Posted at 10:57 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 23:30:24-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The city of Detroit has invested millions of dollars into renovating Alfred Brush Ford Park. During the environmental testing process of the project, they found the soil in the park contains plastic and metal.

Because of this, they are adding new soil, cutting down 251 trees and planting nearly 600 new trees native to Michigan.

Residents surrounding the park, however, say they are not happy that the trees — some of which are over 100 years old — are being discarded.

“You just come in and whatever you do, it’s OK and we’re supposed to be OK with it. It’s not like that," Emma Miller, who lives two houses down from the park, said. “We want the trees to stay.”

Crystal Perkins, the director of the General Services Department for the city of Detroit, says cutting down the trees is an unfortunate fact due to the soil and says the trees would die out on their own regardless

“We know the trees are going to die. We might as well take them out now," she said. "When things come up, we have to act. We have to respond to keep the residents, the citizens, the visitors safe."

The City of Detroit is removing 251 trees from Alfred Brush Ford Park
The City of Detroit is removing 251 trees from Alfred Brush Ford Park

Perkins says she's not exactly sure how much metal and plastic is in the soil but says she's not surprised to see it there.

“Before the turn of the century, before the turn of the 1900s, this area, really everything south of Jefferson (Avenue) was really just swamp," Perkins said. "Back then, we didn’t have environmental controls, we didn’t have the EPA... (the soil) wasn’t tested.”

Residents are also disappointed by the fact that during the renovation process, the park will be entirely closed to the public.

“I used to take my coffee cup and go down to sit by the water and now, I can’t do that," Miller said.

The city of Detroit is allocating $9.5 million into the renovations and have already completed a new community center there, which opened last October. The community center will remain open during construction.

The upgraded park will include new playgrounds, walkways and tennis and pickleball courts. It's expected to reopen to the public this September.

"Be patient with us and rest assured that we have the community’s best interests at heart," Perkins said. “The inconvenience is well worth the reward in the end."