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Thursday, August 23, 2012

New City Lighting Plan?

The lighting issue has gotten quite a bit of attention from local Detroit media in recent weeks, mostly because the City announced a new plan/strategy for lighting.
Highlights so far include:
  • Four-phase, $160 m strategy to improve Detroit lighting system in neighborhoods, around schools, and along major roads by 2015
  • Immediate repair of 3300 lights on major thoroughfares for $614 k (or $186/light; I guess the to fix a streetlight, it costs 3x as much than it would for ACCESS to install a porchlight)
  • A new call center for reporting outages is dependent on the passage of three bills in Michigan legislature (1-to create public authority; 2-utility user tax for funding; 3-delayed city income tax reduction for funding)
From the Free Press article, an overview of the four phases:
Phase One: Stable neighborhoods, such as Sherwood Forrest, Green Acres, east and west Outer Drive and Grand Boulevard would see lighting improvements. The city would convert about 1,525 antiquated lights and remove the nearly 14,000 nonfunctioning alley fixtures that dot the city. This would occur between November and April 2013.
Phase Two: The city would focus on converting 10,000 obsolete series light fixtures to modern LED lights on major thoroughfares, such as Gratiot, Grand River, Woodward, Livernois, Downtown, Midtown, and Michigan and Jefferson avenues. The city also would remove outdated fixtures from certain neighborhoods. This would occur from April 2013 to April 2014.
Phase Three: The city would continue to convert lights, including 10,000 in selected neighborhoods and what the officials describe as semi major thoroughfares such as Junction and Pembroke. Antiquated light fixtures would continue to be removed from neighborhoods. This would occur from April 2014 to April 2015.
Phase 4: In the final phase, the city would complete the removal of obsolete lighting fixtures and the authority would assess the population in distressed areas of the city to determine lighting needs. This would occur from April 2015 to April 2016. 
Also, on August 14, Mayor Bing wrote an op-ed in the Free Press to encourage State support for his plan. It is great that the City has recognized and prioritized the problem (this Detroit4Detroit project would not exist if lighting had been on the City's radar in recent years.
This all seems pretty good, and it is really great that the City is making lighting and safety a priority like this. However, there are some limitations and concerns. Of course, it is still quite dependent on the Republican legislature to come to anything. Also, many people will remain in the dark until 2015, and if I read the Mayor's comments correctly, thousands of fixtures will be removed, but he didn't mention anything about replacing them. Another point to consider, as Stephen Henderson notes, this lighting plan may come at the cost of a reduction in other essential services, like the police force.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rationale for Detroit 2024 Olympics

We still have a lot of work to do to fix Detroit in the coming decade, but there are many reasons the City, the US, and the IOC should consider having the 2024 Olympics in Detroit.

Why the Olympics?
  • Acceleration of necessary investments
  • Alignment of local and regional stakeholders
  • Fundamental re-branding and re-positioning of City in global perception (i.e., from failure to success once again)
Why 2024?
  • Likely return of Olympics to US
  • ~10-yr goal providing the impetus and timeline for Detroit to make necessary improvements local finances, governance, infrastructure, etc.
  • Sufficient lead time for Detroit's nascent recovery to take root and would mark a significant milestone or crowning achievement in the recovery
Why Detroit as US Olympic candidate city?
  • Most compelling potential legacy story
  • Very high global name recognition
  • Least disruption/ displacement
  • Highest potential infrastructure legacy (i.e., public transit)
  • Cost/investment sharing and other collaborative opportunities with Canada
Why Detroit as Olympics host city? 
  • Triumphant return to the US with great story and potential legacy after decades long absence
  • Strong local Olympic tradition, pool of Olympians and support base for participants
  • Corporate sponsorship by some of the largest US companies and spenders on advertising
  • Potential for sport to literally bring people of different nations together through joint events with Windsor