The New York Times has an article on it's website today, about Flint, MI. Click here to read the entire article with photos.
Basically, the Genesee County treasurer is proposing to condense the size of the city, by demolishing abandoned and nearly-abandoned neighborhoods and letting the land sit vacant until things turn around.
I read the headline with shock and disbelief.
I read the article with shock and hope.
Residents who still inhabit some of the houses in these neighborhoods have posted signs announcing no tolerance for prostitution. "A lot of people remember the past, when we were a successful city that others looked to as a model, and they hope. But you can't base government policy on hope," said Flint's city council president, Jim Ananich. "We have to do something drastic, and we have to do it soon."
I think this man, who grew up in the city of Flint and has stayed and is now working in a Civil occupation, is taking a very brave and innovative step. Eliminating blight goes a long way in lifting the spirits of a community. Not to mention the money the city would save on services from trash pick-up, to sewer line maintenance, to the need for less police and fire. But he's talking ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOODS. Not just individual houses.
Now, don't misunderstand, I'm not that idealistic to think that IF this plan gains popularity, it will be a panacea for urban blight and declining cities. And I'm not a homeowner, so to be asked to leave the house you chose to buy, that you worked to make a home, that is something I couldn't even begin to fathom. But this is an opportunity that most cities never get. To start over, to hopefully learn from past mistakes, and to become a model of truly conscious planning. If this is done well, it could become the new model for post-industrial cities. A way cities with crumbling neighborhoods, decaying factories, and near-empty streets can find new purpose and pride.
A sort of Ctr-Alt-Del, if you will.
Having experience in Urban Planning, I can only begin to imagine the scope of this project. And selfishly, I've already started to apply these concepts to Detroit. (Not that the Detroit City Council would ever be that forward-thinking, but that's another story.) And my conclusion; It's just THAT crazy, it might actually work.
3 months ago