Politics
10:56 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Detroit Works Project gets long-term planning input--but is anybody listening?

A project that aims to radically re-shape Detroit’s geography and better align resources with its declining population is starting to wrap up.

After a rocky launch in 2010, city officials split the Detroit Works Project into short-term and long-term planning teams.

The long-term plan organizers have been holding community meetings for months. They’re trying to develop a comprehensive blueprint for the city’s future.

But both organizers and participants say they were “blindsided” by recent reports that the mayor’s office has already deemed some areas of the city “distressed”— and already implemented plans to funnel resources toward more stable neighborhoods..

Christianne Sims is a member of the long-term planning team. She told concerned residents at a northwest Detroit community engagement meeting Monday that even if city officials have made up their mind about some near-term actions, planning for the long run is still valuable.

 “We don’t want you to think that whatever the city is doing on their side is going to stop us from doing what we need to do here, in terms of making an actual real vision for our city, which has been lacking for so long,” Sims said.

Detroiter Tom Wilson says he doesn’t like the idea of drastically paring back services in the most distressed neighborhoods. He thinks the city needs to offer more to people who could be left behind.

But he’s also realistic about the city’s options.

“The realism is…Detroit’s a sick city,” Wilson said. “The optimist in me says, somewhere down the road…we’re going to be a smaller city, but we’re going to be a better managed and ran city.”

Long-term planners say they’ll wrap up the community engagement process by next month.

They’ll eventually present their plan to city leaders in hopes it will guide future decision making.