Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What is next for Detroit's incinerator?


Earlier this afternoon, Mayor Mike Duggan announced that the City of Detroit would close incinerator, which has been controversial throughout its 33-year history. According to published news reports, today will be its last day of operation. The City is expected to transfer its solid waste contract to another vendor.

Mayor Duggan stated that this will not result in any additional costs to the taxpayers of Detroit.

Multiple news outlets have reported on this announcement that Detroit is closing its controversial incinerator. One can read this story here, here, and in dozens of other media outlets.

The one thing that has not been made clear as of yet is the burning question: what will happen to this site next?

(And yes, I did just drop a quip about a burning question into a blog post about an incinerator.)

The short answer is that we do not know at this time exactly what will happen at this site. Mayor Duggan stated in a post on Twitter, "As far as future use of this site, it is my strong preference that this site never again be used as a waste incinerator." The mayor went on to add that the City of Detroit, "will be pursuing our legal options to make sure this remains the case."

Since there doesn't seem to be a clear plan as to what should be done with this land after today, I would like to offer an idea for everyone to consider.

First, bulldoze the entire complex. I'm normally one for saving and reusing buildings in Detroit. The incinerator, however, is a memory that I believe Detroit would be better without.

Once the land is properly cleared, I believe that strip clubs across the city should be incentivized to close in the neighborhoods, convert their current location into a sports bar or something, and move the adult entertainment to where the incinerator sits now.

For more than 30 years, I have heard one elected official in Detroit talk about how they would love to pick up all of the strip clubs in our neighborhoods and move them to a separate area away from everything. With the closing of the incinerator, I believe that Detroiters finally have a chance to do precisely this thing.

Screen grab of the area immediately around the incinerator - Google Maps
While the stench from the incinerator has traveled to residential areas miles away, there aren't any homes currently around the site itself. This coupled with its proximity to the expressways makes this land a perfect location to move strip clubs in Detroit to.

Visual and other barriers can be erected rather easily to isolate these strip clubs from the rest of Detroit. They can do their thing and it won't bother anyone in the surrounding neighborhoods.

There are, of course, many details to work out on this one. What kind of incentive should we use to encourage the strip clubs to relocate, is the most obvious detail. However, I don't think any of these challenges are insurmountable.

And it would be nice to see an idea that has been kicked around for decades finally happen.

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