On Wednesday, another planner and I decided to attend a community meeting for the Detroit Works Project. As everyone knows, the city of Detroit is struggling and has lost over half its population during the past 50 years. Now, the city is trying to figure out ways to provide essential services like water and garbage pick-up, improve public transportation options, position the school system for success, and fix the problems of blight and vacant land. Part of the solution may be creating incentives for people who move to different neighborhoods and increase density. The list goes on.
This past fall, the city held a first round of large meetings that were overcapacity and resulted in yelling (or so I'm told because I didn't make it to any). So, now the city is in the middle of providing 30+ meetings in various neighborhoods throughout the city in order to get feedback and hear about specific issues from those areas.
The meeting I went to was on the west side of the city, just north of Dearborn. Information about some of the ideas that have been talked about was given, and a lot of questions were asked of the audience about these ideas. Real-time answers were given on the screen by use of keypads that were located on each seat. Following this was an extensive question and answer session, and members of various departments in the City of Detroit were present to provide the answers.
Nothing truly groundbreaking occurred, but it was awesome to see and be involved with the public process and see how citizens are being included with this monumental plan Detroit is trying to piece together. The city will use the feedback from the questions to help gauge what needs to happen first or where to focus its investments. Hopefully, in the end, this plan can help Detroit get back on track for greatness.