Detroit seeks to cluster population

Dec. 9, 2010 at 9:59 AM
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DETROIT, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Detroit Mayor Dave Bing wants to cluster city residents into about two-thirds of the city's current space and will give people incentives to move, he says.

No resident would be forced to move, but people should know that the seven to nine core neighborhoods, which the administration will identify by spring, will be the only parts of the city that have full city services, Bing told the Detroit Free Press.

Residents will be "much better off moving into a more dense area so that we can provide them with the services they need -- that would be water, sewer, lighting, public safety," Bing said.

"We think that getting our city to be more dense with its population is the right route," he said.

The targeted neighborhoods, occupying about 94 of Detroit's 139 square miles, are relatively stable with some vacant and foreclosed property, city officials say.

Some of the remaining 45 square miles includes public park space, the officials say.

Having strong schools, non-profit organizations, houses of worship, parks, community development organizations and medical facilities -- along with housing, neighborhood income and other indicators -- is part of the formula for the neighborhood plan, officials say.

The incentives to move will not be big, Bing said.

"I don't want people to think that, if they hold out, there's going to be a pot full of money somewhere, because there's not," the mayor of the strapped Rust Belt city told the newspaper.

Creating more populated neighborhoods is essential to fixing the city's structural budget problems, Bing said.

Detroit's revenue is projected to continue dropping in 2011 and 2012, and even the most depleted neighborhoods now require police patrols, fire protection, bus service, garbage collection and other city services.

Once a city of nearly 2 million, Detroit has lost about 60 percent of its population since 1950 -- and continues to lose at least 10,000 people a year. About 50 square miles lies vacant.

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