Per­ma­nent sta­tus pre­ma­ture for Detroit’s Spirit Plaza

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY CHRIS­TINE FER­RETTI The Detroit News CFer­retti@de­troit­

— A year-round gath­er­ing space along the me­dian of Wood­ward in the city’s down­town may not be per­ma­nent af­ter all, of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

The fate of the “Spirit of Detroit Plaza,” a curved walk­way and seat­ing area, is up in the air just weeks af­ter Detroit Planning Di­rec­tor Mau­rice Cox had de­clared a three­month trial a suc­cess and that the space would be­come a per­ma­nent at­trac­tion.

City Coun­cil mem­bers on Tues­day scolded Cox for fail­ing to gain the nec­es­sary ap­provals from the panel for the clo­sure of Wood­ward be­tween Jef­fer­son and Larned.

“I have a com­plete and ab­so­lute prob­lem with the way this was im­ple­mented,” Coun­cil­woman Ja­nee Ay­ers told Cox at Tues­day’s for­mal coun­cil ses­sion, adding mem­bers learned of the in­ten­tions in a Detroit News re­port.

Ay­ers noted res­i­dents need coun­cil ap­proval to shut down their street for a block party, but the city’s Planning of­fice and Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works made the de­ci­sion to keep Wood­ward ac­cess closed with­out run­ning it by them.

Coun­cil­man An­dre Spivey re­quested the ad­min­is­tra­tion come back next week with a res­o­lu­tion seek­ing to main­tain the tem­po­rary road clo­sure for the plaza.

“This is no ego trip here,” he said. “It’s just the process that you all ad­mit­ted you did not fol­low.”

Cox told coun­cil he takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for the missteps, not­ing “we have never done this be­fore.”

“There’s very lit­tle prece­dent for this in our down­town area so we’re mak­ing up a lot of this as we go along,” he said.

The stretch of Wood­ward has been closed to mo­tor traf­fic since June 12.

Cox on Tues­day also pre­sented find­ings from a sur­vey con­ducted af­ter the ini­tial in­stal­la­tion that found 81 per­cent of the peo­ple us­ing the space felt it should be­come per­ma­nent. Of the 250 peo­ple who par- tic­i­pated, 55 per­cent were Detroit res­i­dents.

Sep­a­rately, he said, the clo­sure found no sig­nif­i­cant traf­fic is­sues.

“I need to see the traf­fic re­port and need to un­der­stand why you all thinks it’s OK to just do what­ever you want and not hold your­self to the same stan­dard that you hold res­i­dents to,” Ay­ers said. “I have a prob­lem with the process, not the fact that it’s here.”

Af­ter the meet­ing, Cox said he “mis­spoke” when speak­ing to me­dia last month about the plaza based on his “en­thu­si­asm for pedes­trian space down­town.”

The plaza’s win­ter dis­play is in progress. It’s be­ing trans­formed with trees, lights and a ge­o­desic dome and food ven­dors, Cox said.

The trial pe­riod for the 20,000square-foot plaza fea­tured a seat­ing area, oc­ca­sional food trucks and art. It cost un­der $200,000 and was funded with pri­vate and pub­lic dol­lars.

DPW Di­rec­tor Ron Brun­didge said the plaza re­mains un­der a tem­po­rary trial pe­riod. Of­fi­cials in­tend to re­assess its fu­ture in the com­ing months.

David Gu­ral­nick / The Detroit News

The trial pe­riod for the curved walk­way and seat­ing area on Wood­ward be­tween Jef­fer­son and Larned re­mains tem­po­rary, a city of­fi­cial said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.