Detroit now touts greening strategies to improve quality of life, economy

Brightmoor

More signs that post-bankruptcy Detroit is turning to new ideas and away from the failed models of the past. From the Freep:

In what may be the city’s most ambitious ecological project ever, Detroit plans to plant tens of thousands of trees in two quarter-square-mile patches to show how greening strategies can improve life for everyday Detroiters.

Maurice Cox, the city’s director of planning, told the Free Press the project will target two districts: the Fitzgerald neighborhood west of Livernois between Puritan and McNichols, and the area in and around the old Herman Kiefer hospital complex.

Cox said every vacant lot within those quarter-square-mile districts would be either planted with trees or given some other “green” or “blue” treatment — rainwater gardens, fields of sunflowers, urban farms and more. It would be paid for largely with money from philanthropic foundations. The city will team with the nonprofit Greening of Detroit to get the work done.

In addition to beautifying these neighborhoods, the greening projects are being touted as economic stimuli. The thinking is that trees and gardens can help boost property values, the projects will involve hiring city residents for landscaping, and bioswales and rain gardens help divert stormwater away from the city’s aging and overloaded storm sewers, helping to save money.

You can see glimpses of similar small initiatives in neighborhoods like Brightmoor, which has a farmway of resident-led community gardens and private commercial farms, and on Detroit’s east side. But this announcement may represent one of the first examples of the city implementing recommendations first made by Detroit Future City in a 2013 report to creatively reuse vacant land to ecological benefit.

It’s also another encouraging move from Cox, the city’s new, pro-bicycling planning director, to address the critical issue of quality of life in Detroit.

Creative Commons photo by sj carey

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