Copper thieves, aging equipment darken blocks in cash-starved city
Leonard N. Fleming/ The Detroit NewsOctober 17. 2011 1:00AM
The growing lack of public lighting has become a troubling problem for cash-starved Detroit, where entire stretches of neighborhoods and thoroughfares — such as portions of the Southfield Freeway — are feeling the effects.
City officials estimate 15-20 percent of the 88,000 lights in the Motor City are not working, and they acknowledge that figure could be as high as 50 percent in some neighborhoods. Providing lighting to the city costs $10.7 million annually.
And often when they are fixed, they break down weeks and months later — or thieves steal the high-grade cable for its copper materials.
One of the city's premier neighborhoods, Indian Village boasts 350 mostly large, stately, eclectic homes that house diverse residents. The area is only three streets wide between Jefferson and Mack on the city's east side. But after thieves — in broad daylight and under the cover of darkness — stole every transformer on each pole, the area has been dark at night for months. The only light in the neighborhood comes from decorative gas lamps maintained by homeowners in front of their homes.
Public Lighting crews showed up to the neighborhood recently to repair 50 or so lights. Cornelius Johnson and a lighting department crew described the problem to neighborhood resident Wicks as he strolled down Seminole one block from his home. Transformers on every pole had been ripped out and wires hanging.
"One light at a time," Johnson told Wicks. "And pray nothing goes on anywhere else. This isn't all we do. But we'll get them on, don't worry about that. There's no guarantee that it will last, but we're giving it a good effort."
Published: Monday, June 13, 2011, 8:00 AM Updated: Monday, June 13, 2011, 8:35 AM
Manhole covers, sewer grates and the occasional stop sign are disappearing from city streets, the victims of brazen scrap metal thieves who steal and deal them for quick cash.
It’s happening every day, said Joe Pilara, Flint utilities superintendent. Thursday night alone, the city lost 15 covers, he said.
“This is like an epidemic all over the city,” said 3rd Ward Councilman Bryant Nolden. “It’s just ridiculous.”
The illegal scrapping has the cash-strapped city spending time and resources to mark the exposed manholes and sewers with construction barriers before they swallow a passing vehicle’s tire or an unknowing pedestrian, costing the city even more in the long run.
The Mayor Of Detroit’s Radical Plan To Bulldoze One Quarter Of The City
Faced with a 300 million dollar budget deficit and a rapidly dwindling tax base, Detroit finds itself having to make some really hard choices. During the glory days of the 1950s, Detroit was a booming metropolis of approximately 2 million people, but now young people have left in droves and the current population is less than a million. The true unemployment rate for those still living in Detroit is estimatedto be somewhere around 45 to 50 percent, and poverty and desperation have become entrenched everywhere. In many areas of the city, only one or two houses remain occupied an an entire city block. In fact, some areas of Detroit have so many vacant, burned-out homes that they literally look like war zones. And yes, it is true that there are actually some houses in Detroit that you can actually buy for just one dollar. According to one recent estimate, Detroit has 33,500 empty houses and 91,000 vacant residential lots. So what can be done when an entire city experiences economic collapse?
Well, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing believes that the answer is to downsize on a massive scale. Bing believes that Detroit simply cannot continue to pay for police patrols, fire protection and other essential services for areas that resemble ghost towns.
So his plan is to bulldoze approximately 10,000 houses and empty buildings over the next 3 years and direct new investment into stronger neighborhoods. In the areas that the city plans to bulldoze, the residents would be offered the opportunity to relocate to a better area. For buildings that have already been abandoned, the city could simply use tax foreclosure proceedings to reclaim them. Of course if there were some residents that did not want to move, eminent domain could be used to force them out.
I guess that means they are just quitting.... No sense trying to change the situation. Change the rules of the game. Just quit. No sense fighting.... Those pesky Republicans thwart them at every turn... So, let's just bulldoze (or "downsize the scale") of the problem....