Hamtramck’s efforts to revive its signature public space are getting a big boost from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation.
The city will receive more than $800,000 to create a community-driven master plan for the 26-acre Veterans Memorial Park—the largest green space and public gathering spot in the tiny, densely-populated Detroit enclave.
The grant will be jointly implemented by the city, Hamtramck Public Schools, and Michigan Municipal League, among others.
Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski says the park has been worked on piecemeal over the years, but this grant will enable them to engage residents and come up with a larger vision.
“If you go by Veterans Park any time during the day, you’ll see it’s just full of people,” Majewski said. “It is a comprehensive kind of snapshot of our recreation opportunities in Hamtramck. And this gives us a chance to make it even better.”
The Veterans Park campus is also home to two major athletic facilities. One is Keyworth Stadium, used by both Hamtramck schools’ sports teams and the Detroit City Football Club, a semi-professional soccer team in the National Premier League. More than half of the grant will go toward replacing the turf at Keyworth.
“With our initial rehab work at Keyworth Stadium in 2016 and the new turf to be installed…our club will be able to bring more notable national and international opponents to Hamtramck,” said Detroit City FC CEO Sean Mann. “This will help raise the profile of this very special community in the region and the world.”
And although it won’t receive any direct funding from this grant, the master plan will also include a vision for reviving the Great Depression-era Hamtramck Stadium, a site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gary Gillette, President of Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, says it was once home to the Negro Leagues’ Detroit Stars, and is one of the last remaining major Negro Leagues ballparks in the country. It has a rich amateur sports history as well.
“This is really rich area in terms of history,” Gillette said. “A lot of it has unfortunately been forgotten.”