SW Detroit business group raises millions to fix streetlights - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Southwest Detroit business group raises millions to fix streetlights

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Streetlight  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Streetlight (Credit: Fox 2 News)

Jamahl Makled owns the Boost Mobile store on Vernor Highway in southwest Detroit.  He and other business owners have done a lot to make the shopping district there more inviting.  The owners shell out additional money to make sure the trash is picked up, graffiti is wiped out and employ off-duty police officers.  However, the broken streetlights make growing a business tough.

"People just don't feel safe, especially with hard economic times and crime being up as it is," said Makled.

"There's sometimes a mile or more of lighting out on one side of the street or both sides of the street," said Theresa Zajac with the Southwest Detroit Business Association.

So the association decided to raise the money on its own.  MDOT provided $3.3 million, and the City of Detroit and SEMCOG kicked in a $1 million a piece.  After two years of active fundraising, thanks to public dollars and foundations, the association has raised $6.4 million to fund the 2.3 mile project.

"New light poles, LED lights, we're going to replace the underground wiring," Zajac said.

The association is still $400,000 short, but their goal is to get a stretch of Vernor Highway lit by November of 2014.

"I think it's just a matter of everybody in the neighborhood, business owners and leaders in the community, pulling together to try and make something happen instead of waiting around for somebody else to do something," Makled said.

The association has until June to raise that money.  They're asking private foundations and some of the business owners along Vernor Highway to see if they will help them reach that goal.

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