At the Gilbert Family Foundation, we believe that investing in vibrant and inclusive public space is essential. With accessible public space, residents are able to connect in unique ways that improve their health, enhance their wellness and strengthen their sense of community. A great example of our commitment to public space is our recent investment with Friends of the Rouge.

Friends of the Rouge’s mission is to restore, protect and enhance the Rouge River watershed. To support this mission and provide greater river access to Detroit residents, the Gilbert Family Foundation made a $275,000 investment in Phase II of the expansion and renovation of the Fort Street Bridge Park.

Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods of the Fort Street Bridge Park have suffered from decades of disinvestment and industrial pollution, and those who live there have been historically cut off from the river by industry and systemic barriers. The Fort Street Bridge Park was opened in 2020 with the goal of reconnecting the community to the river and providing a thriving park space for residents to enjoy and enhance their well-being. Phase one has been a success, but more work must be done to ensure that the park is inclusive, enjoyable, and equally accessible for all neighborhood residents. 

Phase II of this project involves doubling the park greenspace, as well as new amenities including an enhanced fishing pier and observation space, and the installation of a universally accessible kayak launch. The location of the newly expanded park will also provide strategic pathways between both planned and existing blueways and greenways in the area. The Fort Street Bridge Park is part of a larger aim to establish a 29-mile water trail and network of connected greenways on the Lower Rouge River.

Take a look at the rendering for the planned expansion, below. We are looking forward to seeing how the newly updated Fort Street Bridge Park will positively impact the community when the renovation is complete.