Detroit, February 5, 2014. People’s Platform Hockey Arena / Catalyst Project Update. Many Detroiters are disgusted but not surprised that the transfer of city land to Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM) was approved yesterday by the city council. The land transfer will make way for construction on the new $650 million dollar project that uses $450 million in public funds. Yesterday, the city council voted to give away the land for this project, 39 city lots, for one dollar.
The council members voting ‘yes’ on the land transfer were Jenkins, Sheffield, Benson, Cushingberry, Leland, and Spivey while ‘no’ votes came from Jones, Castaneda-Lopez and Tate.
Some of the votes from the newly seated council were surprising, especially in the face of intense community dissent. Dissenters questioned the wisdom of giving away so many public dollars to build a second [or new] hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings as the city reels from bankruptcy, the foreclosure crisis, and deep cuts to social services that effect all Detroiters, and residents of the region.
Tate’s ‘no’ vote was unexpected but inconsequential. In his explanation, the council member went out of his way to define his dissent as being due to the lack of commitment to create post-construction jobs and not due to the call from community for oversight.
Council new-comer and Detroit’s first Latina council member, Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, was very engaged, hosting multiple meetings, gathering community input and negotiating with OMD, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.
The ongoing struggle over enforceable community benefits with oversight will carry beyond this decision on the arena. Last year, the Community Benefits Agreement Policy Group presented city council with a draft community benefits agreement ordinance that will benefit Detroiters city-wide and set a precedent for equitable development.
Platform Member Follow-up
People’s Platform members and allies are encouraged to call and thank council members Jones, Castaneda-Lopez and Tate who voted ‘no’ for standing with their community. Members and allies are also encouraged to contact council members who voted to approve the deal yesterday, ask them to explain their vote and reiterate the need for community benefits that are enforceable and include community oversight.
2014 DETROIT CITY COUNCIL CONTACT INFO
(updated Feb 5, 2014)
Brenda Jones, Council President, At Large
313.224.1245 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Saunteel Jenkins, At Large
313.224.4248 – email@example.com
James Tate, District 1
313.224.1027 – firstname.lastname@example.org
George Cushingberry, Jr., District 2
313.224.4535 – email@example.com
Scott Benson, District 3
313.224.1198 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Andre Spivey, District 4
313.224.4841 – CouncilmanSpivey@detroitmi.gov
Mary Sheffield, District 5
313.224.4505 – email@example.com
Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, District 6
313.224.2450 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabe Leland, District 7
313.224.2151 – email@example.com
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