ROCK VENTURES STATEMENT REGARDING THE WAYNE COUNTY COMMISSION CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMPLEX DISCUSSION TODAY
We appreciate the Commission’s interest and openness in seeking the best outcome for the criminal justice complex. This is a very challenging situation that has been handed to the Commission.
Detroit is at a critical and monumentally important juncture at this point in time here in late 2014. We are coming out of bankruptcy while investment, interest and enthusiasm in downtown is at a 60-year peak.
Detroit has made some very short-sighted important decisions that have caused negative repercussions and cut off untold opportunity for many decades.
If we could have the decision back of locating the RenCen along the river (with a massive berm in front of it in the pre-GM days) versus in the heart of downtown, would we take it back?
If we could have the decision back of locating the casinos in three spread out locations versus lining them up on Woodward or the river so their impact would have been more significant in the surrounding area and district, would we take it back?
If we could have the decision back of building the People Mover 25 feet up in the air with a one-way loop versus a grade-level, curb-side, two-directional mass transit system, would we take it back?
For that matter, if we could take back the decision to tear out one of the country’s most robust streetcar systems in the 1950s would we take it back?
If we could take the decision of creating a barrier in the form of I-375 that tore apart the core of the city versus keeping it at grade, as is currently being intelligently considered, would we take it back?
And if we could take back the decision to tear out the vibrant Black Bottom neighborhood that once thrived in the path of I-375, would we take it back?
Critical decisions like the location of the jail cannot be measured solely by numbers on today’s spreadsheets. They must be measured through the prism of what opportunity, vision and ultimate value would be created in an alternative scenario. Keep in mind that no major decision related to land use in a busy thriving and growing urban core can be made in a silo without understanding how one big piece of the puzzle fits with all of the other pieces.
Whether Rock Ventures or another party ultimately develops the Gratiot site is not important. What is important is that we get it right for all of Detroit – its citizens, businesses and community.
We believe that all stakeholders need to be involved and accountable in identifying the best outcome and we look forward to being a part of that process.
Ultimately, the right solution will responsibly balance the needs of the county and its constituents with the economic development and job creation opportunities that this important gateway to downtown represents. We remain convinced that the correct solution does not include a new hulking jail on the Gratiot site. This decision is too important to the future of our city, county and region to miss another opportunity to do the right thing.