Sunday, January 22, 2006

The "Little Castle" is For Sale

On the northwest corner of W. Warren Avenue and Ashton is a little building that, when I was little, I always referred to as the "Little Castle". If you wonder why I called it that, just look at its roof line and think like an eight year-old for a moment.


Once upon a time, it used to house a tax service before becoming vacant for several years. At one point, there was talk of a cell phone store going into that location but nothing ever came of it.

The building itself has been vacant for a few years. Now it looks like it's all set for a new owner to move in and take the place over.

Construction Comes to Warrendale

Road crews have arrived at the Southfield Freeway overpass at W. Warren Avenue in Warrendale.

I visited the site on a Friday evening (too dark to take pictures) and again on a Sunday morning. I didn't get a chance to talk with any of the workers on Friday so I don't know how long this project will take.

The good news is that they only have the right-turn lanes blocked off as well as the sidewalk on one side the overpass. This means, for however long they're here, traffic on W. Warren Avenue shouldn't be interupted too badly.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Interesting Read: Detroit's Master Plan

Here's an interesting read for the weekend.

Take a look at the City of Detroit's official masterplans for the Warrendale area, as of March 2004.

Changes in Bulk Trash Pick-up

The City of Detroit is changing how they handle bulk trash pick-up. They will no longer do a monthly pick-up.

Detroit's DPW will now only have a bulk pick-up twice a year. Once in January to pick-up the old Christmas trees. The second one will be in May as part of Motor City Makeover Month.

There will be no bulk pick-up of trash at during the other ten months of the year. Bulk pick-up for January has already happened in Warrendale. Anyone in the area who puts bulk items out between now and May is subject to one huge ass fine from the City.

If anyone has any questions or concerns about this, you are welcome to attend a community meeting with DPW Director Cathy Square and other city officials. There will be five of these meetings around Detroit.

The two that are closest to Warrendale will be on Wednesday, January 25 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Northwest Activities Center (18100 Meyers - near McNichols and Wyoming) and again on Thursday, January 26 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Bushnell Congregational Church (1500 Southfield Service Drive - northbound side, just south of Fenkell).

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tax Cuts & Cops

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick has announced plans to cut property taxes temporarily in certain Detroit neighborhoods. Warrendale will not be one of those neighborhoods.

I'm not worried about Warrendale being left out of the property tax cuts. The targeted neighborhoods (Indian Village, Palmer Woods, etc.) all have much higher property values so they're paying a lot more in taxes then we are.

My question is this: if the City can find a way to cut property taxes, why can't we find a way to hire more cops?

Every day, there are hundreds of citizen calls to 9-1-1 that go unanswered. I had to call 9-1-1 twice in the past few months and been told that there were no officers available to respond.

The first time was when a domestic dispute turned violent and someone tried repeatedly to run over a pregnant woman in the street. "Is there a weapon present?" the 9-1-1 dispatcher asked.

"Yeah," I answered, "a car."

"Sorry, we can't respond to anything at the moment unless there's a shooting."

A couple of months later, there was another situation at the same house. This time it was 3 guys arguing. After a couple of minutes, one of them pulled out a handgun.

"Have they started shooting?" the dispatcher asked.

When I told her that they hadn't, I was told that I would have to call back once the shooting starts.

This wouldn't be so bad if I were the only one this happened to me. However, the Detroit Free Press went through the Detroit Police Department's records over the summer and found that there are hundreds of citizen calls to 9-1-1 that go unanswered every day. Calls that simply "drop off the board" because there isn't an officer available to respond.

All of this is on top of the various quality of life issues and non-violent crimes that go unanswered in Warrendale. The windows that got busted at La Hacienda, Warrendale Insurance and Pete's Bar. The hundreds of cases of illegal dumping that the Warrendale Community Organization documents every month.

None of these issues get a response from the City or DPD.

If we can find a way to cut property taxes in certain neighborhoods, why can't we find a way to hire more cops?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Mail Bag: Trash, Trash & More Trash #3

I love it when people take the time to respond to my posts on this blog, even when they don't leave their names. An anonymous users wrote in after my post on illegal dumping in Warrendale to say:
Interesting Observation! I agree that overall we do not have as many police officers on the streets as we would like, you always want more. But, I can say that there are more police officers than before the restructuring, which is definitely a good thing.

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick definately deserves credit for reorganizing the Detroit Police Department and putting 100 more officers on patrol. However, according to the Detroit Police Officers Association, we lost more than 500 officers during Ella Bully-Cummings tenure as chief of police. That is in addition to the officers lost during Jerry Oliver's tenure.

Putting 100 more officers on patrol after losing 500+ is still a net loss of more than 400 police officers on the job since Mayor Kilpatrick took office. That, in my opinion, is the exact opposite of what should be happening.

And that is why I published a proposal to help turn the tide - by at least a small margin.

Mail Bag: Trash, Trash & More Trash #2

As I continue to plow through my mail bag, Sylvia Hubbard wrote in to say:
Not to be completely negative toward this blog entry, Frank, but as a lover of this great city, I would implore you to complain to people who can actually do something about the problem (blight).

If you feel your neighbors are violating environmental laws in the city of Detroit, you should call the 311 number and make a report.

Actually, I have called 3-1-1 on multiple occassions. Most of the time no one answers. In addition, there is also the fact that the Warrendale Community Organization documents 100+ cases of people violating the environmental ordinances every month and turns them in.

The problem isn't on the reporting side, in my opinion. It has to do with enforcement. We can call 3-1-1 every hour on the hour, but if the enforcement isn't happening then it only makes the problem worse.

This, of course, is why I recommended in my post on the subject that DPD rehire some of its recently laid off officers and assign them to environmental duties. The fines would be more than enough pay their salary and benefits. (I found $6,000 worth of potential fines in less than an hour and wasn't even looking for them).

By the way, I'm not the only one who has problems with the 3-1-1 service. You can see a discussion about it on the Detroit YES forum here.

Mail Bag: Trash, Trash & More Trash #1

Fulano wrote in to say:
This problem also is common in SW Detroit. I got so sick of it on my old street that I made signs reading:
BULK PICKUP DAY IS THE LAST FRIDAY OF THE MONTH, NOT EVERY DAY OF THE MONTH!!
and in Spanish:
La dia de recolecion de bultos grandes es el ultimo viernes de cada mes.! Favor de no chingarnos el paisaje hasta esa fecha!
I love your sign. Did it work?

If so, I'll have to start printing a few hundred of them for Warrendale.

Mail Bag: Business Vandalized

Jules commented:

How expensive are those security cameras? There's also the option of Warrendale residents starting a citizens' patrol (baseball bats optional ;)).

Security cameras aren't that expensive, but they only record what happened. They don't actually prevent anything from happening.

As for a citizens patrol, Warrendale already has one. The Warrendale Radio Patrol. They do good work, but they can't be everywhere - unfortunately.

Mail Bag: Random

Okay - now at the Warrendale Blog, it's time for me to dip into our mailbag and reply to some of the comments that I've received over the past few weeks.

First off, for all of the folks who said that they like what I'm doing here: thank you. It's always great to hear those comments.

In others news, Dearborn Blog chimed in to say:
Man, I just realized I know your brother Mark, sort of (from St. Al’s- I didn’t go to high school there though). Well, I should say he knows my father more but I've talked to him a few times.
Yes, indeed. My brothers and I are a lot like the Baldwins in that regard. You keep seeing us everywhere.

And everytime you think you've got us straight, a new one pops up.