Sorry, wrong number

Did you ever play the telephone game when you were a kid? You whisper a silly statement in your friend's ear, the friend whispers to the next person and so on. Then the last one in line announces the message and everyone laughs because it has become hilariously distorted. Well, it appears that's how information about the alleged closing of the Detroit People Mover recently traveled, with Detroit News columnist Pete Waldmeir ending up the last kid in line.

In his Oct. 16 column, Waldmeir wrote that the "People Mover management announced that the one-way loop around downtown will close for about 18 months beginning next April because of renovations at the RenCen."

Unfortunately for Pete, DPM management, the city and General Motors, which is renovating its RenCen world headquarters, all deny that the transit system is closing.

Waldmeir, who did not return News Hits' phone calls, apparently got his information from a story in the News last week by Darren A. Nichols, who wrote that a plan "is on the table to close the 2.9-mile People Mover track for 15-18 months — or longer." But even if Waldmeir had properly cited Nichols' story, he still would have been wrong.

DPM marketing manager Maxine Davis, whom Nichols quoted in his story, told News Hits that RenCen construction proposals are indeed on the table, but none include the closing of the DPM for 18 months. Davis also said that if GM construction does affect the transit system, only the Renaissance Center station would close — not the entire 2.9-mile loop.

Nichols offered a "no comment" when asked about the discrepancies.

Greg Bowens, spokesperson for Mayor Dennis Archer, said that the mayor is not only not considering a plan to close the DPM, he's searching for a way to prevent the Renaissance Center station from closing at all during GM construction.

Terri Philips, GM's manager of communications for the Renaissance Center, also says there's never been a plan to close the entire track.

So how did the Detroit News get the story wrong? According to Nichols' story, City Council President Gil Hill said he was told at a Detroit Transportation Corp. meeting that the DPM may close. When News Hits contacted Hill's office, aide Calvin Hughes Jr. said that, along with information obtained at the meeting, his boss received a letter about the issue from Steve Georgiou, president of the Greektown Merchants Association.

According to Georgiou's letter, the DPM "will be shut down for as long as a year." The group feared that the closing would cut into Greektown business, according to the letter. The letter does not state where the information originated, and Georgiou was not available for comment.

Wherever the info came from, the Greektown casino owners will be glad to hear that it is wrong, says spokesperson Roger Martin. The Greektown casino is the only one of the three with a DPM transit station and is counting on it to deliver patrons to its doors.

"That's good news," said Martin when News Hits rang him up. Let's just hope that Martin delivers the correct message to his bosses.

Ann Mullen is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail [email protected]