News

Council Seeks Help For Neighborhoods In New Bridge Project

September 16, 2014

By Pat Batcheller




"Our alternate proposal brings more value because it actually takes into consideration community benefits and re-investment in the Delray community."

Detroit City Council member Racquel Castaneda-Lopez.

The Detroit City Council voted Monday to transfer about 300 parcels of land to the state of Michigan for construction of a new bridge to Canada for $1.4 million. During a special council session, members approved a resolution that would require the proceeds from the sale to help some of the city's most blighted neighborhoods. Half the money would be invested in Delray, where the bridge would be built. The other half would be spread among other communities in Detroit. Council member Racquel Castaneda-Lopez, who represents Southwest Detroit, says the resolution does more for neighborhoods than Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's sale offer, which the council rejected last week.

"What we're arguing is that our alternate proposal brings more value because it actually takes into consideration community benefits and re-investment in the Delray community, which is ultimately in the best interest of the city and the region as a whole, considering it's going to be the host community and the very first place people see when they're exiting the bridge."

Castaneda-Lopez and other Delray advocates want assurances from Mayor Mike Duggan, the state, and Canada--which is paying for almost all of the bridge project--that they will help the neighborhood. Simone Sagovac of Southwest Detroit's Community Benefits Coalition says the money would address a few of Delray's problems.

"Demolishing dangerous structures. To put an ADA-accessible bus stop with seats and covers where we have none. To turn on street lights and enforce truck traffic and the like."

Sagovac and others also say pollution, blight, and asthma are big problems in Delray, which is home to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's waste treatment plant. State Representative Rashida Tlaib, who grew up in Delray, says residents there--now her constituents--deserve a cleaner community.

"None of us are against development, but we want development to help create a win-win for all of us, every single neighborhood, no matter its condition."

The Council planned to submit its resolution to the State Emergency Loan Board Tuesday for approval.