Monday, July 31, 2006

Detroiters' Efforts Pay Off

Detroiters' efforts pay off: Council approves tax relief

The Detroit City Council made it official on Friday. They approved a plan to cut property taxes in 25 of Detroit's neighborhoods.

Warrendale isn't one of the neighborhoods that will receive these benefits. Regardless, I'm excited about it - just not for any of the usual reasons that people have talked about in news reports.

The important thing, in my opinion, isn't that this will stem Detroit's declining population or anything like that. Quite frankly, I have serious doubts as to whether or not this will have a significant impact in Detroit's population trends.

I believe the most important aspect of this is that is proves that the efforts of a relatively small group of Detroiters can have a signifant impact on public policy. If people in neighborhoods like East English Village can convince the City to find away around an $8 million expenditure, folks in Warrendale should be able to convince Mayor Kilpatrick and the City Council to start taking public safety much more seriously.

We reached the point where it's a newsworthy event when there's only 1 or 2 drug deals happening in Warrendale at any given moment. In spite of that, the number of police officers who are assigned to the narcotics and gang units is embarrassingly small.

Illegal dumping is rampant and very little is done about it.

If folks in places like Rosedale Park or East English Village can convince the Mayor and City Council to give them an $8 million tax cut, we ought to be able to convince them to spend half that much on improving the City's response to drug dealers and dumpers.

Turn in Guns, Get Cash

Turn in guns, get cash back in Detroit

The Detroit Police Department is offering a bounty on firearms. Turn in guns; they'll give you cash - anywhere from $50 to $200. Plus, you can do it anonymously.

The closest gun buyback location for Warrendale will be the DPD 's Northwestern District (11450 Warwick, just south of Plymouth Rd.) on Saturday, August 5 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Welcome to the World's Largest Skatepark

Welcome to the World's Largest Skatepark

Oh, and some more web browsing (yes, I should have been doing other things at work - but I wasn't) yielded this discovery.

The world's largest skatepark is in China. For some reason, a part of me wants to build an even bigger one - just to show those Chinese who is boss.

More Thoughts on a Skate Park

One of the ideas for Warrendale that I had posted here earlier this was the creation of skate park in River Rouge Park - possibly in connection with a Graffiti Hall of Fame. It was pointed out that, amoung things, this would improve Detroit's chances to land a future round of the X Games. (We would have trouble competing for the surfing category, but if Philadelphia can land the X Games then I don't see why Detroit can't).

Tomo wrote in to say that the cost for such a skate park can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I wasn't overly familar with skate parks so I fired up my web browser and did a little searching. According to the Tony Hawk Foundation, it generally costs between $10 - $25 per square foot to build a skate park. They also recommend that skate parks be have at least 10,000 square feet in them. This would mean that we could build a first rate skate park for around $250,000.

Sounds like a lot - until you factor in a potential win of the X Games.

When the X Games were in Philadelphia, the games had an economic impact of roughly $40 million.

So, a $250,000 investment in a skate park for River Rouge Park potentially yields a $40 million return. Not half bad, in my opinion.

Plus, we still have a skate park for folks to play in when it's all said and done.

Public officials mourn Maryann Mahaffey

Public officials mourn Maryann Mahaffey

The former President of the Detroit City Council, Maryann Mahaffy, passed away this morning at the age of 81. I remember Mrs. Mahaffy most recently from the efforts to save the Belle Isle Aquarium.

She will be deeply missed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Discounts Available on the Trash Fee

A fee of $300 will soon be levied against everyone in Warrendale and the rest of Detroit for trash collection. The City is offering a 50% discount to homeowners who are either a) at least 65 years of age or b) had a household income of less than $40,000 in 2005.

The discount is not automatic. In order to get it, homeowners have to fill-out a 1 page form and send it to Treasurer's Office, along with proof of your age or income. You can download a copy of this form at http://www.ci.detroit.mi.us/HomePage/pdf/SWSeniorDiscountForm.pdf

Stolen Camera - Stolen Boat

Observant readers of the Warrendale blog will have no doubt noticed that there haven't been any photos in my posts these past few days. This is because my digital camera was stolen last week.

And it kind of sucks, because at no point in my life have I wanted a camera more than I do right now.

If you were to take a look at the southbound Southfield Freeway service drive right now, you would see a boat sitting there.

Yes, a boat.

It's in between Whitlock and Paul - in that section that M-DOT has closed off while they work on the Pault Street bridge over the freeway.

The boat is still on its trailer, although it's engine has been stripped away. Presumably, someone stole the boat, stripped the engine because those things are worth a few grand and are (relatively) easy to transport. I'm guessing they dumped the boat and trailer (much harder to transport) on the service drive because it would be awhile before anyone noticed.

The Warrendale Radio Patrol reported this one to the police. From what I'm told, the police officer who received this report practically fell out of his chair when he heard it.

Oh, to have my camera back.

If anyone manages to take a picture of this thing, please let me know. I would love to post that image here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ideas for Warrendale: Rouge Park

One of the interesting things about running a blog is that folks are always sending you stuff. Rants about something they don't like. Tips about something they heard.

My favorite, though, is when folks send me their ideas for making Warrendale a better place to live, work and play. Today, I want to share with everyone a pair of ideas that I've received. I encourage everyone to use the comment feature on this blog to share your thoughts on what these two people said.

Harvey Santana, who is working on the MMBA's mountain bike trail in Rouge Park, wrote in with a few ideas that he has for making the area better.
Has there ever been conversation or an attempt to create A warrendale business Association to mimic the Southwest Detroit Business Association? With the housing stability and vibrant thourghfare of Warrendale I think that it is missing a critical link in that their is no visible connection amongst the business and community...at least not from where I stand.
There used to be a Warrendale Business Association. However, it folded in the mid-1990s. The Warrendale Community Organization tried to restart it (back in 1998, if I remember correctly). In fact, I chaired the WCO committee that was trying to do it. However, in all candor, I failed miserably.

If there are any business owners who would like to try and restart it, please let me know. I'd love to help in any way that I can.
However, In the event you choose to submit another "cool cities" grant application, please consider the following.

A) a botanical garden of plants and flowers at Rouge Park. A horticultural society could be formed with the sole purpose of raising funds and maintaining this site,

B) a race track for remote control cars (paved and unpaved), I see kids throughout Warrendale zipping these cars through the streets. It would cost peanuts to construct something.

C) a skate park...Perhaps you have seen this on the X-games. Detroit as a city is always in competition to attract major sporting events and has trouble doing so. Which leads me to my point why not compete at a lower level and attract something that creates national attention.

D) create a graffiti Hall of Fame. Have you seen the random graffiti throughout Detroit? some of it is very good. However, it loses my attention when it's on a business that someone invested their hard earned money into. Why not create a wall like the veterans memorial in DC, where artists from all around can create their masterpieces. Whenever someone wants to go and paint then they go there. They won't get into trouble because it's legal.
I'm not overly thrilled with the Graffiti Hall of Fame, but I love each of his other ideas. Although, if the Grafiti Hall of Fame were incorporated into a skate park - that could be interesting. It would create a synergy effect; marrying two different sub-cultures or cliques that are often close to each other.

Again, these are my thoughts. I invite everyone to post their own ideas or comments.

Ideas for Warrendale: Posting Photos of Dealers

K (real name withheld upon request) wrote in to suggest:
There really ought to be some big, annonymous website and blogs to post photos of "alleged" drug deals going down,, faces, license plates, exact location, time/date, organized by State, city, and RESPONSIBLE police precint, mayor, and county sheriff. IF there was a BIG website,, for people to create postings across the nation,, all in ONE, easy to find webspace,, it would become VERY big, popular and noticeable by the police and newsmedia... and participation by local residents would be phenomenal.

We could also notifiy the local newsmedia to check out the website and see all the crime going down.
There is such a site. And you found it. Send me any photos, video or information that you want. I'll post it.

As for the local news media, I'm working on that part.
Did you know that it is illegal to have basket-ball hoops parked out in the streets? No laws allow for the playing of B-Ball in the street. Call the cops to get these off the streets... they belong in the yard. The reason for the law.. is to keep children SAFELY away from moving cars. But drug dealers and "street punks" like to have basket ball practice in the streets, to have an excuse to hang out in the street and watch out for cops coming down the road. And to make some drug deals appear less obvious.
Yes, I know it's illegal to have a basketball hoop in a public street - although I didn't know about drug dealers using those kids as look-outs.

I know of several people who have reported those hoops to the City by calling 3-1-1. They've been rather slow in responding to those complaints. However, if enough people file enough complaints, eventually it they feel compelled to act.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Governor Granholm Announces 23 Projects Selected as 2006 Cool Cities Designees

Governor Granholm Announces 23 Projects Selected as 2006 Cool Cities Designees

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm announced her selections for the 2006 Cool Cities program. As I mentioned before, the Warrendale Community Organization nominated the Warrendale neighborhood for this honor.

While a total of 23 communities across Michigan were selected, Warrendale wasn't one of them. Governor Granholm hasn't given us any specific reasons as of yet as to why Warrendale wasn't selected (although her staff did promise a detailed response to that in a few weeks).

Regardless, my personal belief is that this has more to do with numbers than anything else. Of the 23 community projects that were selected from across Michigan, 3 of them are in the City of Detroit (Grandmont Rosedale, Focus: HOPE and Chaldeantown, which is along 7 Mile on the near east side). Another one of the selectees was the City of Dearborn.

All of this creates a situation where Warrendale is largely surrounded by other nominees. Since the Governor is up for re-election, and presumably is under a certain amount of pressure to spread those designations out across Michigan, I can see why she might have passed on us.

Regardless, it's a bit of a disappointment to lose.

I had mentioned before that we were hoping to use the Cool Cities designation to a) finish the MMBA Bike Trail in River Rouge Park, b) renovate the Lloyd Ryan Playground and c) take advantage of priority access to 178 different programs from the State of Michigan. The MMBA will keep looking for funds for the bike trail andI'm sure they'll get it. The WCO will keep looking for a way to improve the playground and I'm sure it will happen.

And I'm sure we'll still go after those 178 benefit programs, even if we don't have "priority" access to them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cool Cities Won't Come to Warrendale

I got a phone call this morning from a woman at the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth. Governor Jennifer Granholm will annouce the designees for her 2006 Cool Cities awards soon. Warrendale, unfortunately, will not be one of them.

The WCO applied to have Warrendale so designated because it unlocks a $100,000 grant for projects like completing the MMBA Bike Trail in River Rouge Park as well as upgrading the facilities at the Lloyd H. Ryan Playground. More importantly, it would have given us priority access to 178 different programs from the State of Michigan.

This is, of course, a set-back for the neighborhood. Regardless, the WCO will keep looking for ways to upgrand Ryan Park and the MMBA will keep looking for funds to finish their bike trail. As for the 178 programs, we're still eligible to apply for them. If most of the designated "Cool Cities" are arts projects, which is what has happened in the past, there won't be much competition for the programs that would service Warrendale anyway.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heart of Detroit is on a roll

Heart of Detroit is on a roll - 07/15/06 - The Detroit News Online

I was checking out The Detroit News and found the article hyper-linked above. It's about young folks, mostly recent college grads, who are moving into lofts downtown - creating one of the hottest real estate markets in Michigan.

Even thought the article wasn't about Warrendale, I'm thrilled that there are folks like the ones featured in that article moving from the suburbs into downtown Detroit. With the hipsters moving in, a whole bunch of bars, restaraunts and retail store have opened up - creating jobs and tax revenue for a city that, quite frankly, is in desperate need of both.

My only how the Kilpatrick Administration is treating everyone who don't live in a hip, trendy loft.

I know several people who live in these new lofts downtown. I was talking to one of them and he told me about how a pair of police officers showed up when someone was stealing clothes from the laundry room in his building. The part that really blew me away was when he told me the day and time that all of this happened.

It at almost the exact same day and time as when I was on the phone with a 9-1-1 operator. It was last summer; two drug dealers were having an argument in front of my home and one of them had just pulled out a gun. I was told that DPD didn't have any officers available to respond.

Luckily, the argument ended without any shots being fired. However, if one of them had fired his weapon, there's a good chance that any number of people could have been hit by a stray bullet.

So to recap: someone stealing clothes from the laundry room in the New Center area warrants two police officers.

Out in Warrendale, however, when two drug dealers are potentially shooting at each other with a bunch of kids close enough to get hit by a stray bullet - oh, sorry - nothing they can do about that.

A domestic dispute that turns violent and some guy is trying to repeatedly run a pregnant woman over with his car? (A couple of weeks prior to the drug dealers). Oh, sorry - DPD doesn't have enough officers to respond to one that either.

One drug deal after another? Sorry, there's nothing the Detroit Police Department can do about that, even when you photograph the drug deal happening and have the license plate numbers of the dealer and his customer.

But the police somehow find the resources to send a couple of officers when someone is stealing a pair of jeans from the laundry room of a new condo.

I can't be upset with the police officers themselves. They don't decide how many offiers are on the job or where they are deployed. I'm sure that if we allowed the DPOA to make all of the hiring decisions, Warrendale and the other neighborhoods would have a lot more officers assigned to respond to those 9-1-1 calls.

All of this makes me wonder: precisely how many martinis do f0lks in Warrendale have to order before Mayor Kilpatrick and Chief Bully-Cummings realize that we pay taxes, too?

Friday, July 14, 2006

NFL/YET Rising

In a previous post, I mentioned that construction was starting to heat up for construction of the NFL/YET - Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan. In the past week since I said that, a lot more has happened. Not only have the finished the foundation for the 30,000 sq. ft. facility, but they also at least one of the walls partially erected.

You can see that they also have started work on some of the other walls for the main facility. There is still a lot for them to do, but they've made enough progress in the past week that it's clear they should meet their deadline for having it open by Spring, 2007.

It's kind of cool to see all of this come together so quickly. Although I do wish they'd start cutting the grass on the rest of their campus. Grass and weeds that are 2 or 3 feet tall do not make for a welcoming sight to the neighborhood, especially since the tall grass and weeds are all that one sees from the Southfield Freeway or Joy Road.

If anyone is interested, I also have another dozen or so photos from my visit to the construction site on my Flickr page. They are saved in the "NFL/YET - 13 July" set.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tax Cuts & Cops

According to an article in yesterday's Freep, 25 neighborhoods in Detroit might get a 20% reduction in their property taxes. Warrendale is not one of them.

Quite frankly, I'm not worried about someone else in Detroit getting a tax cut while those of us in Warrendale are excluded.

However, I can't help but wonder: if a cash-strapped city like Detroit can find a way to give folks in those other neighborhoods a 20% reduction in their property taxes, why can't they find a way to make sure there's enough police officers, fire fighters and EMTs to respond promptly to every 9-1-1 call?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Great! Now DPS is Dumping in Warrendale

I was walking along the southbound Southfield Freeway service drive this afternoon after checking out the status of the Tireman bridge project when I came across the second of two things that I simply couldn't believe.

More trash that was illegally dumped along the side of the road.

Take a close look at those trash bags, though. They say "Property of Detroit Public Schools" right on them.

My father retired from the Detroit Public Schools in 1995 and passed away two years ago tomorrow. I'm sure he's spinning in his grave at the very thought of a DPS employee dumping trash in his old neighborhood.

Stolen Manhole Covers

The price of scrap metal must really be climbing. Someone managed to steal a manhole cover and the grate over a storm drain along the southbound Southfield Freeway service drive.

I was walking along the service drive, on my way back from checking out the status of the Tireman bridge project, when I noticed it. I had to do a double take because, while I've heard of it happening in other parts of Detroit, I've never seen this happen in Warrendale.

Demolished Building Won't Be A Parking Lot

I had previously reported a rumor I heard that the recently demolished home of Goodfella's Wear would become a parking lot. I heard that from one of the other business owners along W. Warren.

Since then, it's become clear that my information was wrong. There has been a construction crew there yesterday and today. I'm not sure what they are building, but since it has a concrete foundation, I think we can safely rule out a parking lot.

It looks like they have the foundation pretty much completed. I'll know more about this project as construction continues.

3 arrested for illegally dumping trash - 07/11/06 - The Detroit News Online

3 arrested for illegally dumping trash - 07/11/06 - The Detroit News Online

I'm glad to see that the Detroit Police Department managed to arrest a few people for illegal dumping - even though this wasn't in the Warrendale neighborhood. If enough people get hit with a $10,000 fine, there won't be so many of them who dump their trash in our neighborhood.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mayor Kilpatrick Names A New Press Secretary And Deputy

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick's Administration announced this morning that Matthew Allen, former WJBK-TV Fox 2 News Assignment Editor, will become its new press secretary. His tenure begins today.

The Mayor also announced this morning that James Canning has been named deputy press secretary. He started with the Kilpatrick Administration in December of 2004 as a communications coordinator.

Of course, when the press release went out about these appointments, they forgot one of the most important things. James Canning, the new deputy press secretary, is a proud resident of Warrendale.

As killings rise, Detroit cops get help

As killings rise, Detroit cops get help
According to an article in this morning's Detroit Free Press, the Northwestern District of the Detroit Police Department has been quietly using a program called Operation TIDE (Tactical Intelligence Driven Enforcement) to identify and crack down on the city's worst criminals. The Northwestern District, of course, includes Warrendale.

I'm thrilled that there is something positive happening in Warrendale.

The one problem with things like Operation TIDE is that it purely about sharing information between various law enforcement agencies. It does not increase the number of police officers on patrol or responding to 9-1-1 calls.

Since so many 9-1-1 calls are going unanswered, or taking insanely long for a response, I have serious doubts about how big of an impact this will have on our neighborhood. I applaud DPD for taking a step forward, but also encourage them to do the one thing that most needs to happen in this city - hire more police officers.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Annoyed with 9-1-1

I was walking home after checking out the status of the Tireman Road Bridge for another post, when I saw a drug deal happen on Ashton.

Being the concerned citizen/born trouble-maker that I am, I snapped a couple of digital photos of the dealer and his customer. I also called 9-1-1 from my cell phone to report it to the police. I knew these dealers tended to leave quickly so I wasn't expecting them to get there to make an arrest on the spot.


But I was suprised by what happened.

The dealer left the scene while I was still on the phone with the 9-1-1 operator. I mention this to her and started giving a description of the dealer, his car and where he was headed. That was when she said that there was nothing they could do.

Since the dealer drove off after the minute or so that it took him to complete that transaction, the 9-1-1 dispatcher told me that there was nothing that could be done - even though I had license plate number of the dealer and everything else.

I've lived in other cities and I know that this isn't the norm. In most other cities, the dispatcher would have relayed this information to patrol cars in the area so they could be on the look-out for him when he does his next deal. (I saw him turn south on Faust from W. Warren so I guess that's where his next deal happened.)

Anyway, I sent a letter to Mayor Kwame Kilpatick and Chief Ella Bully-Cummings in which I epxressed my disappointment. If/when either of them respond to me, I'll be sure to post it here. Until then, you can read my letter here.

Mail Bag: Tomo Makes Me Blush

A reader named Tomo wrote in to say:

I (consciously) drove through Warrendale for the first time this weekend as a direct result of this blog. It was a nice part of Detroit, one that I'd overlooked, and quite interesting as it got closer and closer to Dearborn on Warren. I wonder if a rising tide in Dearborn will lift Warrendale and we'll one day see multi-storey infill on Warren.
First off, thanks Tomo! It's nice to know that my writing is actually having some kind of an impact on people.

I'm sure we'll see a lot of development in Warrendale over the next year or so. However, I'm not whether it will be spill-over from Dearborn, the result of the $6 million NFL/Youth Education Town or simply a matter of the half-dozen or so new businesses that have opened up here in the past couple of months continuing to spur new investors.

Of course, I have to confess that I'm not going to worry too much about why it happens as long as it happens.

Construction Heats Up at the NFL/YET

I have a confession to make. Since I live west of the Southfield Freeway, all that I've even seen of the site for the NFL/Youth Education Town–Boys & Girls Club is a massive field of grass.

Specifically, a massive field of grass that hasn't been cut in years.

However, when I was seaching on-line for some information about when construction would begin, I found out that it already has begun. It's just that the construction site is far enough east that you can't see it from the Southfield Freeway. You can see photos from the groundbreaking and early construction at http://www.bgcsm.org/showgallery.aspx?galleryid=11

I was there this morning and it looks like they pretty much have the foundation completed for the 30,000 square foot facility. The whole thing is supposed to be completed by next spring.

Oh, and one other thing that I learned is that while the grounds surrounding the complex will be named the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus, the team sports field will be named the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Athletic Field in recognition of a generous commitment by Mr. Wilson, who lives in Michigan and owns the Buffalo Bills.

The fact that Mr. Wilson's name is attached to the sports field, of course, means that a certain anonymous poster will be stopping by any minute now to call Mr. Wilson an egomaniac.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

New Production Schedule for the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog

In the past, I posted to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog on a fairly hit-and-miss schedule. Basically, I posted whenever a) there was something interesting happening in the neighborhood and b) I had time in which to do it.

However, since readership in the blog is starting to pick up (close to 200 readers a day) and I'm starting to get somekind of revenue from advertising ($5 -$10 per month from folks clicking on the AdSense ads, but it gives me hope), I'm able to make this a much more serious project. From this point forward, you should see posts to this blog every Monday through Thursday. Obviously, there will be moments where my day job prevents me from doing it as well as holidays (like the 4th of July) where I just won't feel like posting.

Regardless, you should see some pretty regular posts to the blog. I hope you enjoy.

If there's anything in particular that you'd like to see me cover in more detail, please feel free to a comment below.

Family Dollar is Open

The opening of a dollar store, in and of itself, is hardly newsworthy. However, it is a part of larger trend towards reinvigorating retail activitiy in Warrendale.

I had reported previously that they were getting ready to open - and now the Grand Opening banners are waiving in the wind as customers stroll in.

It's kind of cool to see new businesses set up shop in the area.

Weekly Update on the Southfield Freeway

My updates on the status of work along the Southfield Freeway (M-39) have almost become a weekly feature for this blog. I suppose that's a good thing because, pretty much every week, there's something new to report about about the project.

The past week wasn't as productive as normal. The long 4th of July holiday weekend drastically cut into the amount of work that happened there since my last report - although I don't think anyone will begrudge the folks at MDOT for such a delay.


Regardless, the center supports for the Paul Street Bridge were completed (see photo above). Excavation looks like it's about done for the Tireman Road Bridge (see photo below). For both bridges, they have a lot materials on hand - most notable is that heavy green wire that they use as a frame for the bridge as well as the iron beams.

It looks like I'll have a lot more to talk about next week.