Ann Arbor's city parks sit on the ancestral and traditional homelands of several indigenous Native peoples. Read a land acknowledgement from the city and learn more about the early history of the land here.
As with some other Ann Arbor city parks, Belize Park did not come on board fully formed. It was pieced together from two land purchases at different times and with some outside funding. The park was dedicated June 16, 1975. At this time, the park consisted of the property at 742 Fountain Street, which the city had acquired in 1974. Funds for purchasing that property came from a portion of the city's 1966 voter approved 2.5 million dollar park bond issue. This was matched by fun ds from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant.
A small piece of land was added in 1992 when the city purchased the adjoining property at 517 Summit. The city sold most of it to become affordable housing but retained the portion that would come to hold Belize Park's rain garden.
You might wonder, why the name 'Belize Park' for a park in Ann Arbor ? It has to do with sister cities. Ann Arbor has several sister cities, and Belize City, Belize is one of the earliest ones.
While at Belize Park you might notice commemorative words carved into the park's wooden retaining wall. In 1965 two people were tragically killed in a fire that occurred at Essie Logan's house that stood on that site. This house had most likely had stood there since the late 1800s. The words on the wooden wall read: “In memory of Essie Logan who resided here." Both 56 year old Mrs. Essie Logan and four year old Michael Brown tragically died in the fire. The fire department crew responded, but rescue efforts failed.
The neighborhood around Belize Park -- now commonly known as Water Hill -- for a long time was known as the West Side and had a strong connection to Kerrytown. Some statistics on changes since 1970 in those two neighborhoods are shown here.
In 1820 the hill holding Belize Park's neighborhood was named Buttercup Hill. That name seems to have disappeared from usage as houses were built.
The recent name Water Hill likewise draws attention to the hill holding Belize Park's neighborhood. This name came about from a music festival held there in the 2010s. Belize Park served as an island of peace away from the crowds. It was in many ways a very unique music festival.
In the past, a brook flowed and gurgled through Belize Park and fed into streams running a mill. A feature of Belize Park now captures the streams of water flowing there in heavy downpours.