Detroit — Following push-back from residents, a request to close off a block in southwest Detroit by the Ambassador Bridge owners has been taken off the table by Mayor Mike Duggan’s office.
“It was a decision made across multiple departments in the process based on the community feedback, although it was the mayor’s office that communicated it to Council,” said Duggan spokesman John Roach.
The Detroit International Bridge Co. had sought city approval to close the block on St. Anne Street between Fort Street and Lafayette Boulevard as it prepares to build a replacement span to the existing Ambassador Bridge.
Dan Stamper, spokesman for the bridge company, did not immediately respond to a phone call and emails seeking comment.
But residents were fired up about that possibility and had collected more than 2,000 signatures on change.org. They were preparing to present them to Duggan to express their objections before the request was pulled. Residents also staged a silent protest in front of St. Anne Catholic Church last month.
“The request to close St. Anne was withdrawn,” Roach wrote in an email to The Detroit News. “So as of now, there is no request to close the street, and there is no permit to build anything there.”
The bridge company, in its petition to the Detroit City Council in August, explained it wanted the closure to “allow the area to be used as a secure area for the processing of international border traffic.”
Alexis Wiley, Duggan’s chief of staff, said the request went through a standard review process.
“When we learned of the community concerns, the request was withdrawn and our Planning Department and Department of Neighborhoods will continue to engage with members of community,” she said via email. “The bridge company has indicated that the requested closure of St. Anne is meant to improve security and access to the bridge plaza, and they have not requested any building permits.”
Wiley also noted that “any proposal to vacate St. Anne Street would not go to City Council without first having gone through a community process.”
Resident Suzy Garza, who has lived on St. Anne all of her 57 years, said her main concern about blocking off her street involved safety.
“If I were to get sick and needed to call 911, and if they closed off the street, the ambulance would take longer to get here,” she said. “Timing is everything.”
Garza, who attended a recent City Council meeting at Greater Grace Temple, said she went to express her sentiments during the public comment session.
“We have a lot of senior citizens who live in this area,” she said. “There’s even a senior citizen home and a high school in the neighborhood. A lot of these houses are old, and if there were a fire, what would happen if the firemen had to get around the closed streets?”
Garza also owns a business a few blocks away, La Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, which has been in the neighborhood for 60 years.
Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez also lives in the neighborhood and wants to ensure residents stay informed about what transpires around them.
“Our responsibility as local government officials is to protect communities, and to make sure they are helping to drive development in neighborhoods and are informed about plans for their communities,” she said. “Right now, there hasn’t been enough transparency.”