Editor Note: During the North American International Auto Show, Detroit Unspun/The HUB will bring you stories about what the auto industry is doing to help transform Detroit and its neighborhoods.
On a steamy hot day last summer dozens of kids who live near the 1,200-acre Rouge Park in Detroit had a chance to splash in the newly renovated Brennan Pool while the TV cameras rolled.
Contributions from Lear Corp. allowed the city to restore two Olympic sized pools in the largest park in the city, once used for U.S. Olympic trials. The pools were closed in 2011 when Detroit’s budget was in peril, but the Southfield-based corporation has a commitment to sustaining cities in towns where they have a manufacturing or administrative presence.
“Lear recognizes three pillars of sustainability, economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and social responsibility,” says Mel Stephens, vice-president of corporate communications. “Our team members have contributed to helping the environment worldwide.”
The tier one auto supplier of seating systems pledged $5 million over 10 years to support the revitalization of Detroit. The funds are targeted to infrastructure improvement projects, including the splash park at Palmer Park and other installations.
The renovation of the Brennan Pools is not only a major improvement. It’s a collaboration. Lear, government officials and the community dove in and worked together to get it done. It’s all captured on this video from WXYZ, which covered the opening of the pool.
“The pools have given young people a place to recreate during the summer months. Parents have a place to take their kids in close proximity to or area. Seniors have a place to swim,” says Paula Trilety, president, W. Outer Drive Civic Association.
Stephen’s vision is that the restored pools will serve as a beacon for young families who may settle in the neighborhoods surround the park because of all the amenities in Rouge Park. Indeed, visitors can walk, run or bike along seven miles of paved pathways, visit the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center, take a nature hike or volunteer hours to the D-Town Farm where 30 different types of fruits, vegetables and herbs are cultivated and sold at farmer’s markets.
Frank Nemecek, president of the neighboring Warrendale Community says a pool gives youngsters a place for positive recreation, keeping them so busy they don’t have time to get in trouble. And it does something to uplift the local well-being.
“This restoration fits into the larger plans to revitalize the Rouge Park, the largest park in Detroit. It attracts visitors and residents to the area. Generally speaking, it’s a big part of making the park more of an engaging resource for families in the area,” Nemecek says.
Lear volunteer teams also visit the park to paint equipment and make other improvements through its Motor City Grounds Crew that takes an active role in parks around the city. When the parks look clean and inviting, Stephens says people are more likely to visit.
The vision of a vital Detroit continues to move forward.