Duggan lays out plan to boost Detroit neighborhoods

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday that the city will double the rate of commercial demolitions and get tougher on rental properties in a 10-point plan for Detroit’s neighborhoods over the next four years.

The list, unveiled to residents during a charter-mandated citywide community meeting includes a,crackdown on illegal dumping in addition to doubling the rate of commercial demolitions from 150 per year to 300 and tougher rules for landlords.

Duggan told residents who crowded into the City Hall auditorium that the meeting marked the first time he’s shared the full plan publicly. The mayor noted he’s spent months gathering input from block clubs and neighborhood associations. The administration will officially put out the plan next week, he said.

“We’ve got to extend what we’re doing to all neighborhoods, which is our next step,” the mayor told the crowd. “We’ve got to have neighborhoods where we get the kind of investment we’re seeing in downtown, Midtown and Corktown ...”

The neighborhood plans cover quality-of-life issues including removal of 10,000 dead trees, replacement of 250,000 sidewalk slabs over three years and cleaning out catch basins to reduce flooding. He also touted the expansion of Neighborhood Police Officers in Detroit, a unit that has grown from 44 to 59 officers; the city’s commitment to opening 27 recreation centers in partnership with Detroit’s school district; and the launch of “Board up Brigades” to secure blighted and abandoned homes. Finally, he noted an effort to expand areas targeted for revitalization under Detroit’s strategic neighborhood fund.

During and after the meeting, residents had access to a couple dozen stations in the auditorium with representation from neighborhood managers and police officers as well as the city’s departments for questions and concerns. That deviated from the usual format in which Duggan fielded most questions directly. The shift didn’t sit well with some attendees, including Jennifer Teed.

“Today he didn’t even want to hear our voice,” said Teed, who represents the People’s Water Board of Detroit. “I wanted to talk to him about the health crisis around water in Detroit right now.”

Duggan’s chief of staff Alexis Wiley defended the new format, saying it was designed to help people get quicker access to information.

“I think it’s a better use of everybody’s time,” Wiley said. “People come here (and) they want to get issues done, they want to hear what’s happening. We want to make sure they have an opportunity to do that.”

The access to services was welcomed by Boston Edison resident Tonya Jackson, who was seeking clarity on the water department’s drainage charge program.

“I love the person-to-person,” she said. “This is a great forum.”