Wickes Park: One Riverfront, One Saginaw

Community Planning Assistance Team Report



In 2018, the American Planning Association's Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) program was invited to Saginaw, Michigan's northernmost Rust Belt city, to explore ways to revitalize Wickes Park and improve the city's overall community health.

The community group Get Outside for a Healthy Inside (GOHI) requested support from the CPAT program to develop a revitalization plan for Wickes Park, a once vibrant and popular riverfront park. Over the course of several months and several park and site visits, CPAT volunteers met with city officials, community leaders, stakeholders, and engaged residents while spending time in the park.

The final report demonstrates key linkages between parks and a community's overall health. Six design interventions are identified to achieve the vision, each presented in phases. A summary of the team's recommendations include:

  • Adding passive and active recreational amenities
  • Promoting community safety and connectivity
  • Establishing environmental connectivity and stewardship by celebrating public spaces and culture and supporting green infrastructure
  • Creating economic opportunities through investment in public facilities
  • Promoting economic development

Meet the Team

Team Leader

Leslie Dornfeld, FAICP

Leslie Dornfeld is an adjunct professor and guest lecturer at Arizona State University who is active in the Urban Land Institute, Arizona, APA's Arizona Chapter, and the City of Phoenix Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. Previously, Dornfeld conducted economic and market analysis of income properties in New York City and throughout the U.S. and developed economic revitalization programs. Career highlights include award-winning projects such as the Greening Lower Grand Avenue Plan, Casa Grande General Plan, Goodyear City Center Specific Master Plan, Phoenix Indian School Plan, Desert Spaces Plan, and Pedestrian Area Policies and Design Guidelines for the Maricopa Association of Schools.

team member

James Coffman, ASLA

James Coffman is a registered Arizona landscape architect whose experience mixes 30-plus years of private and public sector planning and landscape architecture work with 11-plus years of teaching at Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. He has managed and participated in over a dozen community/regional active transportation master plans in Arizona. Coffman is a co-author of the Equestrian Design Guidebook for Trails, Trailheads, and Campgrounds, published in 2007 by the National Forest Service. Other work includes a Complete Streets Guide along with designs, design guidelines, and design and construction oversight for urban trails. He was named by AzASLA as the 2012 Arizona Landscape Architect of the Year and the 2014 Educator of the Year.

team member

Alyia Gaskins

Alyia Gaskins is the assistant director of programs/health for the Center for Community Investment. Previously she worked as senior associate at the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Gaskins began her career at D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center. She is a graduate of the Leadership Fairfax Class of 2014 and a 2015 Next City Vanguard. She is active in her community and serves on a number of boards and councils. Gaskins has a BA in Medicine, Health and Society from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently pursuing a master's in Urban and Regional Planning from Georgetown University and is a 2017 ULI/Randall Lewis Health Mentorship Fellow.

team member

Michelle Iqbal

Michelle Iqbal is a first year master's candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in the Global Health Epidemiology program with a focus on sustainable community development. She earned her BA in Peace & Conflict Studies and Biology from Wayne State University in 2017. A graduate of Heritage High School, Iqbal hopes to move back to Saginaw after completing her graduate studies.

team member

Richard Lukas

Richard Lukas has worked in community development focusing on the intersection of government affairs and urban planning for over 10 years. Currently, as director of federal grants and program development, he supports The Trust for Public Land's mission to create parks and protect land for people. Since 2012, he has been responsible for the overall vision, development, and implementation of a multi-million dollar federal grants program to support the organization's 30 state offices, funding projects that include park acquisition, design, and development in urban and metropolitan areas. Lukas holds a master's degree in Political Management from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Gettysburg College.

team member

Michael Tunte, AICP, PLA, LEED GA

Michael Tunte is an associate, landscape architect, urban designer, and planner with Design Workshop. He has designed award-winning projects, lectured at universities, and served as an adviser to numerous clients and communities. He is committed to producing outstanding work by understanding what it means to design and build the best landscapes and public spaces in each setting and climate. Tunte graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Landscape Architecture as an ASLA Student Honor Award winner. He also holds a Master of Urban Design degree from the University of California-Berkeley, where he was a Gadsby Trudgett Scholarship recipient as well as a University of California Fellowship recipient.

Team Member

Jacqueline Norris

The Rev. Jacqueline V. Norris resides in Prince George's County and is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She is a 2016 alumna of the EPA Region 4 Environmental Justice Academy. Norris returned to the academy to become a certified Environmental Justice Academy Train-the-Trainer, so she could assist low-income, marginalized, and disenfranchised communities engage their governments and other key political, religious, nongovernmental, and academic partners. Norris has worked at the Health & Human Services section, White House Consumer Affairs, Office of Program Planning & Consumer Outreach. Today, she works with marginalized groups, governments, churches, and non-governmental groups to ensure environmental social equity.


Page Count
Date Published
Oct. 1, 2018
Adobe PDF

Table of Contents


The Purpose of the CPAT Program

Executive Summary
One Riverfront | One Saginaw

Project Report
Existing Conditions
Planning Priorities

Recommendations and Interventions
Six Interventions for Wickes Park
Taking Action to Build Local Capacity: Organize, Mobilize, Implement

Appendix A: Picture Gallery
Appendix B: Funding Options
Appendix C: Project Schedule
Appendix D: Meet the Team