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Wheeler Park

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Park Address: 200 Depot Street  Ann Arbor, 48104​

Parking  Amenities   History   Active Adopters

Ho​​​​urs and Rules 

Open 6 a.m.- 10 p.m. ​Refer to Chapter 39 of the City of Ann Arbor Code of Ordinances for park regulations and rules. Contact park rentals for policies and rules related to rentals and special uses and always refer to posted park signage in the park. Smoking is prohibited and dogs must be on leash.  

Overview

Just under two acres in size, this park located in the north central part of Ann Arbor is packed with activities. View the Ann Arbor Parks and Nature Areas map for location context. The park contains a playground, restroom building with water fountain, a walking/running/skate track, basketball court, plaza with benches, picnic shelter with picnic tables and grills, an open field area and an asphalt walk connection to all of the activities. Contact park rentals for information on renting the shelter or hosting an event at Wheeler Park.

In 2020, the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Project was completed, resulting in a tunnel under the railroad to create a path that connects Wheeler Park to the Border-2-Border trail (B2B). The trailhead is accessed at the corner of Depot and 5th Street, just across the crosswalk at the North East corner of the park. View the Allen Creek Berm Project video from Mayor Christopher Taylor to learn more about this project.

Access Points and Parking 

Wheeler Park is openly accessible on three sides of the park.  Street parking is available but is within a residential area so note the two hour parking limits Monday-Friday on E. Summit, S. Fourth Avenue, Depot, and S. Fifth Avenue and some meter spaces on Depot and the lot adjacent to the Amtrak station. The two hour residential parking is only enforced Monday-Friday from 8a.m-6p.m -meaning all vehicles parking without a resident permit need to move every two hours (those with a residential parking permit do not need to move every two hour). There are tow away zone signs on the same posts as the two hour signs so that people know they cannot park in intersections and block crosswalks, hydrants and driveways. The two hour residential parking limit is not enforced on the weekends.

Public transportation. There is an AATA bus stop located three mintues away at Beakes and Summit. Wheeler Park is also located a few minutes walk away from the Amtrak Station  located on Depot Street. Downtown Ann Arbor and the Blake Transit Center is about a 20 minute walk from Wheeler Park.​  Check out TheRide​ Guide​​ for more details.

Amenities List

  • Playground
  • Basketball courts (2)
  • Picnic tables, benches throughout – view the pdf asset map for specific amenity locations​​
  • Restrooms available, open seasonally
  • Trash and recycling opportunities. There are landfill cans located on either side of the shelter and recycling bins on the perimeter of the park.
  • Small shelter with electricity is available with grills and restrooms nearby. Approximate capacity is 25 people. Visit park rentals for information on hosting an event or renting the shelter at Wheeler Park. 
  • Trail information. The crosswalk at 5th and Depot to the North side of Depot Street leads to the Allen Creek Tunnel path, which connects to the Border-2-Border trail (B2B). Wheeler is a perfect departure point for a one mile walking loop that takes you from Wheeler Park through the Allen Creek tunnel to the B2B, over the dam, along the cascades and over the Broadway Bridge back to Summit Street and Wheeler Park.
  • Winter Park Information 


 

 Volunteer

There are ongoing and limitless opportunities for volunteering and getting engaged with the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services Unit. GIVE 365 and the seasonal Adopt-a-Park Program offer volunteer opportunities ranging from a 90 minute commitment, to a more long term, ongoing role. If you are feeling the tug to volunteer or give some time, reach out or explore the websites above to see what’s upcoming or how to get involved. 

Report a Problem - A2 Fix It

To report any maintenance issues or other problem during your park visit, please report through A2Fix It. When reporting an issue in a park please include location details. There is a details and description section near the end of the request process to help you provide this. In addition, users can utilize the pin (website) or X (mobile app) feature to provide specific location information inside the park. Finally, please consider including a wide angle photo or include background landmarks, which helps staff find and fix the problem.

Gifts and Donations 

Information on donating to the parks and the Guide to Giving can be found here. Alternatively if you have a special project or park improvement idea that you want to donate your time and energy toward, a great place to start is through Adopt-a-Park and the proposing a special park project guide. For information on donating a tree through Adopt-a-Park, the  tree donation guide can help you get started. 

History

Wheeler Park, originally known as Summit Street playground, is surrounded by some of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.  Park records note that the City Public Works yard had used this land but relocated and the park department developed a playground that was only a half acre space. A special report by the Sunday Daily in 1969 gives a glimpse into the history of this centrally located park: “Before the turn of the century, Summit was a hitching station for horse-driving teamsters. Later the station was leveled, and the plot was used by an ice rink by local residents. But the open space was wedged between homes on one side and Peter’s sausage house on the other. Adjacent to the park was Lansky’s Junkyard. Peter’s butchered its pigs in traditional style, filling the air with dying squeals and the smell of innards being boiled for glue”.  Still, as the only playground in what at the time was the city’s black neighborhood,  neighbors say the park was always busy.  Coleman Jewett​, who grew up in the area,  was an enduring presence,  organizing activities for the parks department all summer long and refereeing games.  Lifelong neighbor Claude Baker,  born in 1940, recalls playing baseball on the lot next to the sausage company. If the ball was hit onto Summit Street (which still ran through at the time), "it was a ground rule double."


​History Timeline
1958 -North Central Property Owners Association was founded by Rev. C.W. Patterson of 2nd Baptist Church and Walter Wickliffe, a lifelong neighborhood residents and city forester.  After Walter's death, his sister Letty Wickliffe led NCPOA for nearly thirty years. NCPOA through the decades highlights the community members who have advocated for Wheeler Park and this neighborhood. Today the association is known as the North Central Neighborhood Association. 

In 1961, The Ann Arbor News reports a new park shelter at Summit playground. The shelter is used for ice skaters in the winter and for organized recreation in the summer. 

1975 – After 15 years of negotiations, the City successfuly finds Lanksy's salvage annex/yard a new home, acquiring the north part of Lanksy's junkyard property for the long desired expansion of Summitt Park.

1977 – The Ann Arbor Observer reported in November of 1977 that "Summit Park is Done at Last". Not without some controversy. Mr. Albert Wheeler was the Mayor at this time and was closely involved in the development, advocating fiercely for the park. As the first African American Mayor for the city, he advocated to ensure that the park offered the activities youth desired and worked with the Model Cities Policy board to bring the funding and grant money forward. The roller skating rink was a point of contention and opposed by the neighbors which resulted in council voting to eliminate the skating track from development. Mayor Wheeler vetoed the council’s vote to prevent it from being eliminated. That track remains today and the park was a long awaited success featuring some unique play pieces that are highlighted in this Summit Park 1977 design brochure. The beehive climber was a favorite for many years.

The 80s started off with the park selected to receive a National Honor Award in the 1981 the Professional Grounds Management Society Awards program for the “Best Maintained Park and Recreation Area”. 

Wheeler Park

In 1987, council renames the park to honor Mr. Albert H. Wheeler thus beginning a new era for Wheeler Park. To learn more about the park namesake, read Albert Wheeler Remembers ​Part I​ and Part II from the Ann Arbor Observer (1974).


April 4, 1994 – Albert Wheeler passed away leaving a legacy of accomplishments.

In the mid 90s, almost 20 years after the initial park development, the process began for making improvement and updates to Wheeler Park. There was continued community involvement and advocacy for safety. Improvements and repairs on sidewalks, fences, benches, landscape and other infrastructure upgrades are approved in a 1996 resolution.

In 2010, the playground equipment was updated to what you see today.

Wheeler Park remains an important park in the African American community. An annual Juneteenth event occurs every year in June hosted by the Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP

In 2020 the Juneteenth March for Racial Justice was a walk event that ended at Wheeler Park. This was a modified Juneteenth event hosted during the 2020 pandemic when the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining national understanding and attention. The event was a partnership between the Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP, Protectors of Equality in Government, Ann Arbor Parks (GIVE 365) and the Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovation.

Wheeler Park Adopters

A special group of park neighbors have cared for the amazing gardens at Wheeler Park and North Main Park for many years! Be sure to check out the garden in the growing season where you will find yarrow, false sunflower, and more. Reach out to [email protected] or call 734-794-6445 if you would like to be kept in the loop of any volunteer workdays or otherwise involved in caring for the gardens at Wheeler Park. 

First Martin Corporation has been a maintenance sponsor and partner at Wheeler Park for several decades making sure this park always looks sharp and welcoming. 

Updated February 2021. Email [email protected] for incorrect/outdated information.