What does a #DetroitProblem look like?
In his latest column, the Detroit Free Press’ Tom Walsh warns that the city is racing against the end of daylight savings time, Nov. 3, to restore stable service to 40,000 street lights, to prevent students from having to walk home in darkness.
Wait, what year is this again?
Here’s the deal: Tem Gary Brown, named by emergency manager Kevyn Orr to be the city’s chief restructuring manager, is trying raise funds to improve basic services and show the state’s takeover of city government is producing results.
He will first target a set of 5,000 streetlights to get a sense of how best to go about repairing the other 35,000.
Brown is also trying to remove abandoned vehicles — in case you can’t tell, the list of flagging city services that need to be addressed is sort of endless.
Brown also is working in concert with the newly created Public Lighting Authority to start getting about 40,000 non-functioning Detroit streetlights turned on.
“By the time Daylight Saving Time ends (Nov. 3), we’ve got to make some serious progress on streetlights, because it will be getting dark earlier as kids are coming home from school,” he said.>
Brown doesn’t control the timing for kick-starting these initiatives. They all require money, and in the case of the streetlights, completion of a plan by the [newly created Public Lighting Authority] to prioritise which areas of the city — hopefully those around schools — will get lights fixed first.
DTE Energy is working with the PLA now on two demonstration projects, in areas where about 5,000 streetlights need repairs, to diagnose what exactly needs fixing and what the costs will be.
Quick action on such basic city services is crucial to building credibility for the argument that Detroit’s comeback is possible.
“By the middle of October,” Brown vowed last week, “Detroit residents should see those tow trucks out towing abandoned vehicles. They should see lighting crews out working on the lights, especially around schools where kids are. And hopefully, I can secure funds to get these trees down that are dead and hanging over people’s houses.”