Tag Archives: Blight

Does your community suffer from power pole blight?

I don’t know about your community, but here in Greater Lansing there seems to be an intense love affair between public utilities and power poles. “Holy pincushions, Batman, you’d think they’d all been raised by a family of porcupine.”

In some places, the primary roadway corridors look like a long, linear parade of power pole blight. Sadly, all too often this leaves communities in the region with disjointed and unpleasant streetscape aesthetics to viagra for sale overcome. I know Greater lansing is not alone, as I have seen power pole blight across many parts of the Rust Belt.

Seriously...in the middle of a roundabout?
Seriously…in the middle of a roundabout?

Attempts have been made to convince area utilities to remove portions of the visual blight and bury the power lines, but that is usually greeted with consternation and rebuttals on the costliness of such actions. If the community or property owners wish to pay for burying the lines, they would be glad to oblige. As a result, instead https://twitter.com/drjonesbilly of a modern and efficient electrical grid, numerous locations end up with a cobbled together third-world styled electrical grid that struggles to maintain service during ice, snow, and wind storm events.

One would think that after a certain number of repetitive power outages and emergency repairs to broken, damaged, and fallen power lines, electric utilities would initiate https://twitter.com/drjonesbilly routine burying programs on their own to reduce the number of outages and their firm’s long-term maintenance costs. Throw in discount viagra regular tree trimming efforts and eventually burying power lines doesn’t look so expensive anymore. Apparently the bean counters differ on that assessment.

Years ago, power utilities were often active participants in economic development, community enhancement, redevelopment, and revitalization efforts. It was seen as a way to increase the utility’s customer base. Today, some utilities can be a stubborn impediment to new initiatives and progressive streetscape design ideas. Whether this is a function of the short-term profit mindset or local firms being bought out or merging with multinationals is not entirely clear. Unfortunately, whatever the reason, local communities across the Rust Belt and other parts of the nation are left with paying the price of power pole/line blight with unsightly pincushionesque landscapes dotting the horizon.

No one is advocating for the burying of the entire power line infrastructure. That would be viagra for men impractical. But, in those areas where the power poles have become overbearing and omnipresent, or in places where redevelopment and revitalization efforts are trying to get underway, burying the power lines makes sense. As stakeholders in the community and https://twitter.com/drjonesbilly the Rust Belt generally, it is hoped the region’s utilities will join any and all localized efforts to achieve a more aesthetically pleasant streetscape and overall community vision.

– Rick Brown

Leave a comment

Filed under architecture, Economic Development, Editorial, Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, the environment, Urban Planning

Economic development soul-searching

The title of this post may be a bit controversial, but can also be sadly true. Far too often, it seems a blind eye is turned toward the sins of the past just to generate new economic investment. A perfect example is portrayed in the past week’s (April 17th edition) of City Pulse by an article entitled “A Tax Break Won’t Change This.” While tax breaks are being offered to GM for additional investment in Greater Lansing, a ginormous vacant parking lot blights the near south side of the city, not to mention additional deteriorated sites along Saginaw Highway on the west side of town. This case is not alone, as the Rust Belt is littered with leftovers of its industrial history – hence the nickname Rust Belt.  Is disregarding the fouled legacy of past sins what economic development is supposed to be all about? I certainly hope not.

Source: lansingcitypulse.com

Sadly, concerns about the past sins tend to get drowned out by the hype, hoopla, and hyperbole over new (or saved) jobs and investment. While those are important, they are NOT the only things that foster economic development and improve a community. Pleasant and safe neighborhoods, good schools, well-maintained infrastructure, quality public services, environmental stewardship, beautiful parks, inspired art, creative and new ideas, and many other community attributes also spur economic development. Vacant and blighted parking lots, abandoned industrial sites, polluted environment, underfunded schools and public services, and discarded communities are not the seeds necessary for sewing a healthy and vibrant economy. They are the seeds of our ultimate demise as a place where people want to live or work.

The economic development community needs to do some serious soul-searching and start to stand up for enhancing “community” in more ways than the perceived and spouted panacea of jobs which is so narrowly focused and aspired to. Otherwise, they/we are nothing more than a bunch of glorified used-car salespeople, and we know how well they rate in the court of public opinion.

Rick Brown

Leave a comment

Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Editorial, Great Lakes, Headline, Politics, Real Estate, the environment, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning

New Ways to Fight Blight?

abandonedhousesinflintmichigan

From the Flint Journal via Flint Expatriates:

Former Genesee County Treasurer Daniel Kildee is pushing for reforms to allow local governments to sue property owners who don’t take care of their homes- the proposed system would allow the Genesee County Landbank to recover costs of cleaning and fixing up homes, according to Flint Expatriates.

I’m curious to see if this idea goes further. A few years ago, when I was writing stories about vacant properties in Lorain, Ohio, Kildee’s Genesee County Landbank was often cited as a model other cities should copy.

Kildee is now the head of the Center for Community Progress.

-KG


4 Comments

Filed under Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, The Housing Crisis, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning

Ohio’s Poorest City: The Struggle to Remake East Cleveland

Great article in the Plain Dealer about the city East Cleveland–Ohio’s poorest city–its new mayor, and the seemingly impossible task of turning it around.

Gary Norton is young (37) and well educated (he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and earned his master’s degree in public administration at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs). And that’s a big change in a city that has been characterized by political mismanagement and corruption. Former Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor was convicted on bribery charges in 2004.

gary-norton-east-cleveland-mayorjpg-c1b1300c8dcd205a_large

Norton’s election has injected fresh hope in the largely black, inner-ring suburb of Cleveland, which has lost more than 1,500 homes to foreclosure in the past two years–about 500 per mile, the highest in the state.

East Cleveland was once the home of Cleveland’s industrial titans, including John Rockefeller, but many of the breathtaking mansions have been overtaken by weeds and vandals.

Norton’s hoping to leverage the city’s location near the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University to attract some new development. He also has $2.2 million in federal stimulus dollars to attack blight.

On the other hand, the city has a failing school system, a 35 percent poverty rate and the lowest educational attainment stats in Greater Cleveland. Truly, and I’m editorializing here, the challenges in this city cannot be overstated.

large_1224081409

1east_cleveland_01

I visited this city shortly after moving to Cleveland last year and I was shocked.

But redevelopment officials are encouraged by Norton’s cooperative attitude, according to the article. His leadership helped the city secure a $20 million expansion of Huron Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic satellite, and the city recently began a partnership with the county landbank.

-AS

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Economic Development, Headline, Real Estate, The Housing Crisis, Urban Planning

Art Youngstown: Wrap the Arts

Folks in Youngstown have developed a pretty straightforward strategy for dealing with blight: cover it up with some pretty artwork.

dsc_2630

Art Youngstown last weekend unveiled its Wrap the Arts project, in which a desolate parking lot and chain link fence served to display works from some of the region’s talented artists, residents and community organizations.

Forty large, weather-resistant paintings were wrapped around the lot, on the corner of Wick Avenue and Broadway Avenue on city’s North Side.

dsc_2631dsc_2636dsc_2640dsc_2646

The public is invited to view the installation of the project on October 24 between noon and 5 p.m.

Funding for the project was provided by the Wean Foundation.

Thanks to Youngstown Attorney Deb Weaver for sharing the photos and info!

-AS

3 Comments

Filed under Art, Featured, Good Ideas

A Temporary Reprieve for Michigan Central Depot

train4_540

National Public Radio had a piece over the weekend about community opposition in Detroit to tearing down this beautiful but crumbling landmark.

Detroit City Council has postponed the planned demolition in response.

“It is not an eyesore to us who live here,” one advocate for the building said. “We see what it was, what it is and what it could be.”

-KG

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

Youngstown’s Treez Please

When you live in a city with lots of problems, it’s easy to get discouraged. What can one person do?

For Youngstown resident Debra Weaver the answer is trees. The self-employed attorney launched a program with two friends to turn vacant lands into controlled urban forests while helping combat global warming.

She calls her volunteer group Treez Please.

p3280016 Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Good Ideas