by Khalil AlHajal|MLive
DETROIT, MI — A crowd of residents roamed a roomful of colorful maps, cards and lists pinned to the walls of the Detroit Works HomeBase at Eastern Market on Tuesday in the second week of outreach sessions revealing a set of proposed urban planning strategies for the city.
The first open-house event last week showcased drafts of the group’s long-term plans for economic growth.
This week’s display’s focused on neighborhoods.
On display were maps dividing the city into low, moderate and high-vacancy neighborhoods with ideas on safety, housing, recreation, environment, identity and other issues pinned to the walls by the planners.
The plans are meant to be implemented from the block club to the city level, said Dan Pitera, executive director of Detroit Works’ civic engagement team.
“The vitality of any city is really connected to the vitality of civic engagement,” he said to a crowd of at least 50 who roamed the space late in the event around 6 p.m. Tuesday.
He said the strategies on display were based on about 9,000 interactions in the community, and he hopes to take the plans deeper into the city’s neighborhoods for more insight on what assets exsist and how to use them.
“Every area of the city has assets and every area can amplify those assets,” he said.
One idea for a low-vacancy neighborhood: “Create online, interactive ‘Quality of Life’ database of home ownership, crime, environmental conditions, etc.”
For moderate-vacancy areas: “Develop programs to assist Section 8 recipients’ transition from subsidized renters to homeowners.
And in high-vacancy neighborhoods: “Prioritize funding for large-scale productive land use or blue-green infrastructure projects.”
(View the full draft of neighborhood plans below)
Visitors were asked to grab cards and pushpins and add their own ideas.
They ranged from requests as simple as “encourage neighbors to get along,” to a suggestion to build “semi-permeable drives and parking lots.”
“The idea is that you empower people so that they’re implementing their own ideas,” said James Canning, a spokesman for the project.
Russell Woods neighborhood resident Karmun Newby suggested supplementing home ownership initiatives with educational programs for landscaping and house maintenance.
She said helping people who transition from renting to owning to understand how to keep up a neighborhood is essential to rehabilitating an area.
“What do you do with the people that really don’t get it?” asked Newby, 63.
“You’ve got a lot of young people who don’t understand,” added resident Mattie Greene, 65. “‘You need to fix your roof. Your porch is falling down’ … Maybe it’s as simple as having somebody come by with a pen and pad and say I’m going to give you a ticket every time I pass by your house.”
Newby and Greene said they were happy to see all the ideas and planning in the works, but are eager to see some action.
“I think it’s a lot of great ideas,” Newby said. “It’s just a matter of when they’re going to be implemented.”
Next week’s Tuesday session, from 1 p.m to 7 p.m. at 2929 Russell Street, is focused on city systems, followed in the coming weeks by open-house events on the draft plans for land use and public land.
More conversations are planned in four different parts of the city next month:
Sept. 10 at Leland Missionary Baptist Church, 22420 Fenkell, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 11 at American Serbian Memorial Hall, 19940 Van Dyke, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, 3606 E. Forest, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Detroit Hispanic Development Corp., 1121 Trumbull, 5:30 p.m.
Neighborhood groups are asked to call 313-259-4407 to arrange more conversations on the plans.
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