Why is there a park in St. Clair Shores that only Grosse Pointe Woods residents can access?

A look at the history of Lake Front Park

Lake Front Park sign. (Kayla Clarke, WDIV)

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. – There’s a park located in St. Clair Shores that only Grosse Pointe Woods residents can access.

Lake Front Park is in St. Clair Shores but is owned and operated by the City of Grosse Pointe Woods.

So, if the park is in St. Clair Shores, why can’t St. Clair Shores residents access it without a guest pass? Simply because it’s owned by Grosse Pointe Woods.

The land is adjacent to the Ford House. It was sold to the Village of Grosse Pointe Woods on Feb. 26, 1948, for $60,000 by Eleanor Clay Ford.

Grosse Pointe Woods pays around $100,000 each year in St. Clair Shores taxes and in return receives police, fire and other emergency services from St. Clair Shores.

In 1946, the Village of Grosse Pointe Woods started looking for areas for a public beach. Authorities said the water near the Edsel and Eleanor Ford property was less polluted than at other nearby Lake St. Clair beaches.

That’s when Eleanor Clay Ford offered the village to purchase the property. Residents voted and approved a bond issue to purchase the property and make improvements.

In December of 1950, an adjacent 10.92-acre parcel of land was purchased from the Ford property to expand the park to 54 acres.

According to the city, the park has around 55 acres of “green lawn that borders Lake St. Clair.” They also said they have the largest outdoor swimming complex in Michigan.

Any non-resident entering the park has to be accompanied by a resident holding a valid park pass. Residents 18 and older can have two guests daily.

A special visitor pass is available for $10 for out-of-town guests coming 100+ miles and staying for an extended period of time.

In 2017, the city implemented a system requiring park pass holders to have a photo on file so people couldn’t use a pass that doesn’t belong to them.

The park offers the following: 780 feet of boardwalk along the lake, seating, lighting, three gazebos, a fishing terrace, daily bus service, a concession stand, picnic tables, grills, a playscape, basketball court, two bocce courts, two shuffleboard courts, a volleyball court, six outdoor tennis courts, eight pickleball courts, a mini golf course, a pool and a paved path for walking.

Photo from outside Lake Front Park. (WDIV)

Tax information

The land is currently valued at $3,391,000 and listed as commercial retail space.

YearSeasonTotal Amount
1941 Map of City of St. Clair Shores, Michigan; Section of 1941 Macomb County, Michigan color map - City of St. Clair Shores, Michigan (Clinton-Macomb Public Library Local History Collection)

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.