Jefferson-Chalmers resident aims to meet neighbors, clean up Lakewood East park

Ted Tansley grew up on a farm in northern Oakland County not really knowing his neighbors. He’d always wanted to live in Detroit, in a place where he could be active in the community. 

So in 2019, he moved to Jefferson Chalmers. Tansley is passionate about having clean parks for people to enjoy and wasted no time in organizing clean-ups at the local parks. He even cleans up during the winter. 

This year, he decided that he would only focus his time and energy on one of those parks, Lakewood East Park – his favorite park.

On Tuesday evening, Tansley was joined by Samantha Pickering, director of education at the nonprofit group Plastic Oceans, to clean up trash at the park. Pickering collaborates and joins forces with other organizations, groups, or people doing sustainability and environmental work. 

No one from the community came to help out Tuesday evening, Tansley is hoping for a better turnout for a second cleanup this Saturday, July 16th from 9 am to 11 am.

Trash and overgrowth along the river. Photo by Angela Lugo-Thomas.

Lakewood East Park is one of several parks along the Detroit River, tucked in an obscure dead-end corner around the bend of Alter Road – the well-known street that signifies the end of the Detroit city limits. Just east of Alter, you cross into Grosse Pointe Park, one of the most affluent cities in our area. 

“Most of the trash in the park is brought there in cars,” Tansley said. “People drive up, hang out in their car and throw their trash out right through their window.”

Cleaning up Lakewood East Park has become a pet project for Tansley. He said he fell in love with the park a few years ago. 

And he doesn’t just pick up trash; he trims overgrowth from trees and bushes. The mulberry trees trimmed that day can now provide shade for anyone who comes to sit near them. He has other ideas for the park. 

“It would be great if the city allowed people to plant different fruiting trees like paw paw and walnut trees,” he said.

Lakewood East Park features breathtaking views of the Detroit River, but Tansley said not many people enjoy it because of the park’s poor condition and lack of amenities. 

The condition of the walkway at Lakewood East Park along the riverfront shows the years of neglect. Photo by Angela Lugo-Thomas.

“There isn’t much that makes people want to go to this park, he said. “It’s not easy to get to by car, bike or walking because of the poor road and sidewalk conditions.” Several large potholes pockmark the parking lot, and portions of sidewalks are not passable.

Tansley said he’d like to see the city do more to maintain Lakewood East Park. In recent years the city has undertaken substantial renovations at other parks in the city, but there have not yet been any renovations here. 

“I want to push the city more, to clean up the overgrowth because it breaks up the seawall, it breaks up the cement. Just basic maintenance,” Tansley said. “I’ve only been here a half hour and have already cleared out two trees with just these loppers. The city could do this.”

Planet Detroit reached out to the city to ask about the maintenance schedule and renovation plans for the park and did not get a response. 

You can join the second clean-up scheduled for Saturday, July 16th from 9 am to 11 am. Find out more information here. You do not have to register. Just show up with your water and closed-toe shoes to Lakewood East Park at Detroit, 14490 Riverside Blvd., Detroit 48215


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