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
Park Development History 1970s-1990s
The city acquired the land in the early 1970's, which was known as the Brown property. In late 1970's the city of Ann Arbor entered a lease agreement with Washtenaw County to lease the land remaining from their Pittsfield-Ann Arbor drain retention pond construction site for use as a neighborhood park to serve the area bounded by Packard Rd, Platt Rd, I-94 and Stone School Rd.
In 1979, the park began to see major developments including the provision of a pedestrian/bicycle path, a play equipment area, a basketball court, a neighborhood softball diamond and an open field play area. Input from the Southeast Neighborhood Community Development Citizens Committee was incorporated into these improvements. During these changes, an existing path and fencing were reconfigured to allow more convenient access to and from the adjacent Hikone public housing site.
In 1995, the park underwent more changes which included the installation of playground equipment, new surfacing for the play area, ADA access improvements, landscaping, creation of two limestone parking areas, repair of asphalt walkways and the installation of the disc golf course. Prior to the construction, the city sent a survey to the surrounding neighborhood and two public meetings were held to gain input for the improvement plan. Around this time, a steel pedestrian bridge was installed over Mallets Creek.
Park Development History 2000's
From 2006 to 2008 the park underwent a major storm water project that kept portions of the park closed to the public. The project was initiated by the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and was a collaboration with the city of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to improve water quality in Mallets Creek. Prior to these changes, Mallets Creek flowed almost straight through the north portion of the park. During a heavy rain event, the water level would rise and the creek's flow would increase drastically leading to streambank erosion, water pollution and flooding downstream. The project design goals were to improve water quality and habitat, protects Mallets Creek and to enhance aesthetics, recreation and education opportunities. The park now contains a 12-acre wetland which can collect fifteen million gallons of storm water runoff and allows it to drain slowly. During construction, 31,263 plugs of 25 species of grasses and forbs were planted along the water's edge, along with seeding of eight acres. These native plants provide habitat and food for wildlife, take up some of the collected storm water and help to break down pollutants. The park enhancements also included a new pedestrian path and pedestrian bridge, parking lot expansion and relocating the existing disc golf course.
During the storm water project, the existing disc golf course was partially removed and then reconfigured in 2009. During this time, the course site was prepped and 26 concrete pads and 19 baskets were installed. Also in 2009, the city installed new playground equipment which replaced older models that were removed due to changing safety standards.
Renaming of Mary Beth Doyle Park
In April 2006,
Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution to change the name from Brown Park to Mary Beth Doyle Park. The new name celebrates the life of Mary Beth Doyle, who is recognized as one of Michigan's most prominent environmental advocates who passed away in 2004.
During her professional career she worked at the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Ann Arbor's Ecology Center, in addition to serving on the Ann Arbor Environmental Commission. Mary Beth's environmental work included local, state and national efforts in the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County area and elsewhere. She worked with professionals, policy makers and other stakeholders to increase awareness of endocrine disrupting chemicals, and the links between public and environmental health. Mary Beth also worked with several communities throughout Michigan to help address toxic pollution problems. This included a successful campaign to shut down the Henry Ford Hospital incinerator in Detroit, which was a source of air toxins in the community. In Ann Arbor, Mary Beth coordinated the grassroots portion of the successful People for Parks campaign to pass a citizen-initiated millage proposal for parkland acquisition. The program was later expanded into several Ann Arbor parks and greenbelt programs. She also helped pass a ban on mercury thermometers in Ann Arbor, which was the third ban in the country, and she later advocated for the statewide ban.
Listen to the WEMU 89.1 radio segment called "Issues of the Environment: Women's History Month - The Life and Legacy of Mary Beth Doyle" from March 2021. During the segment, WEMU 89.1 host David Fair speaks to Mary Beth's mentee, colleague and friend Rebecca Mueninck from the Ann Arbor Ecology Center.
During your next visit to the park, we encourage you to remember Mary Beth Doyle and her contributions to improving the quality of life in our community and moving Michigan towards a healthier and more sustainable future.
Mary Beth Doyle Park disc golf course was reconstructed in 2010 when the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission rebuilt the stormwater pond. The course winds around the pond and through a wooded area. This is an 18-hole course with two tee pads per hole.
In 2021 the city acquired an
additional 3.8 acres of undeveloped land to expand Mary Beth Doyle Park's nature area further to the east. The city paid $1.5 million for the land, which had originally been intended to be developed into more housing. This brought the total size of Mary Beth Doyle to 85 acres of land. This addition facilitates another
trailhead into the park.