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Detroit to clear debris from 2,000 neighborhood alleys

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city plans to clear 2,000 overgrown alleys in neighborhoods across Detroit this year.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday announced plans to expand Detroit's Alley Cleanup program. The effort, which began in August, has removed brush and debris from 505 alleys, some of which had not received attention in decades. 

"This is progress in the quality of life in the city," Duggan said during a Monday news briefing.

Even though empty homes are boarded up, the lack of residents overseeing the property or neighboring homes doesn't prevent illegal dumping on Central near Joy in west Detroit.

Maintenance of alleys has been the responsibility of adjacent property owners for decades since the city vacated them. Duggan on Monday noted 30% of the land in Detroit is now vacant and taking on a role in cleanup is something "The city felt that we had to do."

The city's General Services Department is clearing the alleys in response to petitions from registered block clubs and community associations. In exchange, the city is asking neighborhood groups to commit to clearing the sites at least twice each year on their own.

The city has allocated $12 million for the four-year alley cleanup program. Officials intend to target 2,000 to 2,500 alleys per year. Duggan said so far city crews have cleared 5 million square feet of alleyways, picking up 4,000 tons of debris. 

The mayor said about 1,500 block clubs have registered and been accepted for the program this year and 500 spots remain.

Block clubs or neighborhood associations registered with the Department of Neighborhoods can complete the alley cleanup request form on the city's website at https://detroitmi.gov/departments/department-neighborhoods.

Obie King of the city's Monica Street Block Club said he'd long been urging neighbors to help clean and secure the alley in his community near Monica and Fullerton. The area has since been cleared under the program. 

"When people see a clean area ... they really see that someone cares about this alley, so they wouldn't reach out to bag up and dump anything when they see action is happening in these alleys," he said.