Detroit's future is bright if you live long enough to see it - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Detroit's future is bright if you live long enough to see it

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Off the Chain Opinion

DETROIT – I can see the future now.

I am a 97-year-old man. There is a silver train running up Woodward. The old train station is a new discotheque and cloning laboratory. There are forests of juniper and box elder. People fly hovercrafts over the new bridge to Canada.

Detroit is a great place to live.  

According to the "strategic framework" of the Detroit Future City project unveiled to the public this week, Detroit is going to have plenty of jobs, good schools and safe parks. Hell, even white people are going to move back.

Even better, the people of today won't be run out of their marginal neighborhoods – a malapropos by Mayor Dave Bing's administration in 2010 that almost tanked the idea.

The plan was devised by the mayor's office and a consortium of foundations, community groups and business people. Most exciting, the way forward will be paid for with $150 million in seed money from the Kresge Foundation.

Man, I hope live so long. It would make my grandfather proud to see my generation rebuild a city that his generation pushed over a cliff.

But let's keep the cork in the champagne for a moment.  Because we have to get through today first.

Detroit's political infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. We're hemorrhaging money we don't have and nobody knows how much. We can't count. We can't collect taxes. And we are so far in debt you'd have to shut down the city completely for 20 years to pay the notes.

Not enough cops. Not enough fire trucks. Not enough anything.

Now, I'm no urban planner, but I don't think you should begin building a castle on quicksand.

Gov. Rick Snyder may appoint an emergency manager in the next few weeks who would have czar-like powers over city restructuring. But even that may not be enough. You can't ask Wall Street to renegotiate $15 billion in loans when you don't know where the money is.

That means bankruptcy. But bankruptcy would take away two years and $100 million in lawyer fees.  How is it we find money to rebuild midtown and downtown and have no good plans for the neighborhoods?

We pay financial consultants $14 million to go through the file drawers. We pay for grand plans. We find money for that. But when will Detroit get a measly $3 million for ambulances? Because at this rate nobody in Detroit today will be alive to see the Detroit of the future.

Or is that the plan?

 

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