Monday, January 16, 2006
Paving paradise and putting up parking lots
In what has become the typical way of doing things in Detroit, they’re knocking down the Motown Museum – to put in a parking lot.
It’s just one more thing that Detroit is doing to get ready for the Super Bowl next month. Knocking down a historic landmark to provide more parking for a singular event.
I am amazed at how badly preparations for the Super Bowl seem to be going. There aren’t enough hotels in the city, and the burned-out buildings that the mayor promised to get rid of? Yep, they’re all still there. You’d think they could knock some down to create parking, but apparently they reserve that for historic landmarks.
In order to impress the out-of-towners, they are going up and down Woodward, placing murals and fake businesses in the vacant storefronts, in order to create the impression that large portions of the city are not the ghost towns they actually are. Even if none of the stores are actually open, the storefronts will at least look occupied.
We don’t need to worry about the visitors running into any unsavory homeless people looking for a handout, either; the city is throwing the homeless their own Super Bowl party. For three days, the city’s homeless will be put up and fed at the Detroit Rescue Mission. That way, nobody needs to see the homeless problem either.
It’s not like it even matters. It appears that most of the out-of-towners are staying across the water in Windsor, not even spending their money in a different city, but in a different country. People would rather spend hours getting across the border (it will be a mess that weekend) than stay near the stadium. Perhaps if Detroit had been able to follow through on what it needed to do, people would be less likely to be afraid of staying near the game (to be fair, Windsor does offer legal prostitution and that seems to be a draw, too).
This is all pretty typical of the way Detroit does things – half-assedly. The city has known about the Super Bowl for several years, and really could have tried to create something that would help the city turn around. Instead they were wrapped up with their problems with Kwame Kilpatrick, the crooked mayor who is doing such a bad job, and is so corrupt that Time named him one of the three worst mayors in the country. He has created a situation of open hostility between the city and the suburbs, and done his best to present his side of any scandal in a way that will create racial tensions.
He shut down the nation’s oldest aquarium and now he’s starting with the museums. He has created a city that is bankrupt, with residents fleeing the city at an alarming rate. Soon, the only people left in the city will be the ones who can’t afford to leave. You know they’re not doing much to boost the city’s tax base.
He has done such a bad job that Detroit re-elected him, which is also pretty typical for Detroit.
Detroit has for years said that the Super Bowl will create a big change for Detroit. Just like they said the casinos would. And the new sports arenas. And the All-Star Game.
And just like all of the previous big events for the city, nothing will change. A little bit of history will be destroyed. Some cleaned up buildings will be allowed to return to ruin, and the homeless will be back on the street.
Business as usual in the Motor City.