Detroit council on Monday demanded something in writing that guarantees re-investment in Delray’s neighbourhoods when the city sells 300 properties to the state for the new Detroit River bridge leading to Windsor.
“They keep telling us we can negotiate these things down the road, but our community is seven years down the road on this — how much longer do we need to wait to get this?” said Detroit Coun. Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, who represents the Delray community.
Given the massive makeover that lies ahead for the downriver industrial community during construction of the $2.1-billion Detroit River International Crossing project, neighbourhood leaders have been fighting hard to get “community benefits” in writing before bridge construction gets started.
Detroit council last week unanimously rejected a request by the city’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to approve the property sale for $1.4 million until community protection and investment for Delray gets put in writing.
Under protocol, Detroit’s council had to come up with its own counter proposal instead of Orr’s request — which Castaneda-Lopez put together and was approved by council on Monday.
Both Orr’s request and council’s proposal will be sent to Lansing for a decision by the state government’s Emergency Loan Board within the next couple weeks.
“The proposal has just been received and is under review,” said David Murray, spokesman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday.
Government staff and those connected to the bridge project will review what can be addressed in terms of the community’s requests, he said.
What the community wants is “legally binding agreements” for most of the $1.4 million to be reinvested in Delray for such things as housing improvements, demolishing vacant buildings, diesel pollution mitigation and fixing street lighting, according to Castaneda-Lopez’s proposal.
They also want community leaders consulted in development of the request for proposal for the bridge project, plus reinstatement of a $1.9-million government housing grant designated for Delray, but has long remained on hold.
“Planting 50 trees is the (current) community benefit to take care of the diesel emissions,” Castaneda-Lopez said. “At this point, that’s very much our reality.
“You would think they would want a thriving, beautiful community for those coming off the bridge to drive through or stop. You want that on both sides of the border, otherwise this (bridge) really doesn’t move us forward as a region or a city.”
Local MP Brian Masse (NDP -Windsor West) represents the riding where the DRIC bridge will be located on the Canadian side in Brighton Beach.
“You can’t hold it against them for trying to improve their community for the new border crossing,” Masse said. “I have been over there several times and it’s a reasonable request they are making.
“They just want to do this right. More power to them because they are the ones who are going to have to live there and co-exist with the border crossing.”
If the property deal is eventually approved, it would be the first properties acquired on the U.S. side for the DRIC project. Causing a delay of a few added weeks in getting the property sale completed is worth it if a resolution can satisfy the Delray community, Masse said.
“Hopefully, they can come to agreement or a compromise that works for everybody — and then let’s get moving forward on this,” he said. “You only get one shot at this — it might another 100 years before they build another one — so this should be a signature crossing.”
Originally posted by the: Windsor Star