The Detroit Works Long-Term Planning team unveiled more draft ideas Tuesday for remaking the city’s vacant land and its public infrastructure.
Dan Pitera, a co-leader of the Long-Term Planning team, said the strategies should not be taken as quick fixes. Rather, the team envisions implementation over years and decades after thorough public engagement.
Pitera said one goal is to create support for multiple solutions as opposed to one single “silver bullet” idea.
“In Detroit, it seems to be an all or nothing discussion,” Pitera said at a public open house Tuesday at the group’s home office at 2929 Russell St. in the Eastern Market district.
“It’s either the car versus the train or the train versus the bus. It should be all of that — bike, car, bus, train. And the same thing with water — it’s not pipes versus ponds, it’s multiple systems versus single monolithic systems.”
The planning team will collect public feedback on the draft strategies until Sept. 20 and then compose its final report to Mayor Dave Bing.
Among the ideas being floated:
• Creating rainwater retention ponds in vacant areas to ease stress on overtaxed sewer systems.
• Reforesting other vacant areas to create buffers for freeways and industrial areas.
• Greatly increasing public transit options to link workers to jobs.
The Detroit Works program has drawn much criticism in its two-year lifespan, directed at the initial effort in 2010 and also since then. But at least one member of the public, Marvin Smith, 61, who lives on Balfour on Detroit’s far east side, gave an upbeat review of the effort at Tuesday’s open house.
Smith said he came for ideas for starting a block club and getting rid of abandoned houses. “They offer so much (about) what we can do and the way we can get it done,” Smith said after talking with planning team staffers.
The draft strategies unveiled Tuesday envision a sort of triage system to decide where roads, streetlights and other infrastructure would be repaired and upgraded. In mostly vacant areas of Detroit where population is unlikely to return, some roads might be closed off and the maintenance gradually reduced so maintenance could be concentrated in higher-population areas.
Four key services would be available citywide: Police and fire; water and sewer lines; gas and electricity, and telecommunications/data.
A paper released Tuesday by the team said the city’s current population of 700,000 is paying for infrastructure designed decades ago when the population was closer to 2 million. The paper said the city must “realign and tailor” services to population and economic growth” to improve service delivery and make it more cost-effective.
Using so-called landscape systems– including the rainwater retention ponds and reforestation along with greenway corridors, wildlife habitat areas and other measures — could reduce city maintenance costs, improve air and water quality, and stabilize neighborhoods by increasing property values, the briefing paper said.
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