Friday, April 24, 2009

Right-sizing the Rust Belt

The New York Times reports on proposals to "right-size" the city of Flint. Since the 1960s, the city has lost nearly half its population, and a third of those remaining are in poverty. To restore density and make city services more efficient, the County Treasurer would like to shrink the city's footprint by shutting down the city's least populated blocks and neighborhoods. “Decline in Flint is like gravity, a fact of life,” he says. “We need to control it instead of letting it control us.”

As I've written before, Youngstown, Ohio, has already adopted a plan to right-size the city as its population drops. Many believe Detroit should do the same, though it's a matter of considerable debate. Also sure to spark debate are mayoral candidate Dave Bing's recent remarks to the Detroit News's editorial board on rebuilding Detroit's vacated land:

Estimating there are about 70,000 parcels of vacant land citywide, Bing said his first priorities are to clear land near and around schools, churches and senior citizen complexes. He would eventually create areas similar to what people have come to expect in some suburban communities. "A lot of people who moved out of the city are middle-class people, and I don't think a lot of them feel we've got the communities they like to live in," Bing told The Detroit News editorial board. "Wouldn't it be great if we could look at some of this vacant land to build a city within a city?

"It would be great to have a city like Birmingham in the city or to have a (place) like somewhere in Grosse Pointe so that those middle class people have an option to come back."

Something tells me Bing will have some explaining to do.

1 comment:

David said...

we already have hamtramck and highland park. you can tell by visiting both just how happy the middle class is to live, work, play and invest in those communities which are not detroit.

not that his plan can't work, but its unclear if he wants to control these new Birminghams-in-Detroit or just give away the land to new towns - a great idea in theory, but bad timing, seeing as we have plenty of already built towns around the regions to serve the population / job market we have.

all about the clearing of land, though. also, a zero tolerance policy towards unsecured abandoned structures would be great.