Letters to the Editor

Apr 19, 2006 at 12:00 am

Thanks for the memories

Michael Jackman's "Back track" (Metro Times, March 29) was excellent and instructive. Even included was the anti-trust case that implicated Michigan's largest corporation, General Motors, in the consortium that connived to destroy America's intra-city rail transit. All Jackman left out from his history was: a) Detroit Mayor James Couzens, heavily identified with transit improvements, b) the grossly overstressed system during the war which probably harmed subsequent political support, c) how, within a few months of the last streetcar run, the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, which encouraged Detroit and Grand Rapids to tear the stuffing out of their central cities with government money (U.S. 131, the Lodge and the Edsel Ford excepted).

Welcome in these parts was Keith Schneider's report ("Momentum Shift"), a rare mention of Grand Rapids in Metro Times. Grand Rapids had a fine tram system, which the Citizens' League of Grand Rapids advocated reviving in part, but things move slowly on the farm — even if Detroit is worse.

'Twern't always so. In 1904-06 the Lowell Ledger carried stories about the progress of the electric railway to Ionia from Grand Rapids. —G.M. Ross, Lowell


A pan for the plan

The recent Metro Times articles by Michael Jackman and Keith Schneider caused me to think about the successfully destructive 1945 Detroit Master Plan enacted by Mayor Edward Jeffries in 1946, and implemented by Mayor Albert Cobo beginning in 1949, which helped to erode the city of Detroit's infrastructure to the way it is today.

Regardless of any election year hype from politicians who talk about "fixing Detroit's problems," this city, and the obvious end results, are exactly what Jeffries and Cobo hoped to achieve. Why hasn't the plan been repealed, revoked and dismantled since the days of Mayors Cavanaugh, Gribbs, Young, Archer and Kilpatrick?

Why, because there are individuals who have benefited for many years as a result of this city's downward spiral. It's no accident concerning these negative results. Even before that, the so-called "first families" of metro Detroit created policies of blatant polarization and deprivation. Here's a question: Who is really the mayor and deputy mayor of Detroit? Henry Ford Sr. and Harry Bennett. They still rule this area from their graves. —Leonard King Jr., Detroit


Hold that tiger

Re: "Tiger tale" (News Hits, March 29), what do we do with Tiger Stadium? Some say to tear it down to allow redevelopment of the supposedly desirable location. Others say leave it there and wait for bids on the site.

Many of course have deep sentimental ties to the old home of the Tigers. That I understand. However, except for sentiment and history, I don't see any other tangible value in either the stadium or the location. The stadium itself lacks the classic look of the other baseball parks. The aluminum coating on Tiger Stadium makes it look more like a suburban warehouse than a classic ballpark. As far as the alleged value of the Michigan-Trumbull location, the only value I can see of said location is the memories of the Tigers there.

But some folks act as if that exact location is needed for redevelopment, as if there is a lack of vacant land in Detroit. Are these people blind? Do they live in Detroit? This is Tiger Stadium in Detroit, not Wrigley Field in Chicago, where every square inch of surrounding land is covered with dense development. You want to bring in some sort of new residential or retail development to that area? All they need to do is stand at the intersection of Michigan and Trumbull, and look around. Vacant land and abandoned buildings abound. There is enough vacant land in Detroit to contain 100 new Wal-Marts, strip malls or condominium apartment complexes.

The real question is, why such a sense of urgency to do something with Tiger Stadium anyway? This is Detroit. There are — what? — 10,000 vacant buildings that need to be torn down? Tiger Stadium has only been vacant for six years. That's nothing in Detroit.

Let the stadium rest in peace. It's not in danger of collapsing, it's not hurting anything, and it gives the neighborhood some ambiance. —Kurt Kelly, West Palm Beach, Fla.

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