Infrastructure plan, examined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $7.2 billion infrastructure plan gets a hearing today at the City Council. The Chicago Tribune reports the plan would give a board of financiers the ability to approve multi-million dollar deals with almost no oversight. Some aren’t happy with the idea.
Stimulating failure The Dayton Daily News reports that nearly $5 million in federal stimulus funding went to charter schools in Ohio that have since closed their doors. Millions more went to schools that were accused of mishandling funds in the past, according to the paper.
Casino competition Indiana is expecting to lose $100 million in state revenue as new casinos open in Ohio. The new Ohio casinos are expected to take away customers from Indiana’s casinos according to the Herald Bulletin.
Empty buildings, full of danger The Detroit Free Press looks at the harrowing walk to school for many of Detroit’s children. The Freep has a two-part series at the dangers children face from the 33,000 vacant buildings near Detroit schools.
Parking lawsuit A deal to privatize four city-owned parking garages in downtown Chicago has led to a $200 million lawsuit, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Banking on land banks Partner station WCPN Ideastream says more Ohio counties are setting up land banks to deal with the problem of vacant property.
Detroit’s deal Last night, the Detroit City Council voted to approve a consent agreement with the state to avoid takeover by an emergency manager. That means, as long as the governor signs the deal as expected and the courts don’t strike the deal down, Detroit finally has the first step in a plan to avoid bankruptcy. Partner station Michigan Radio reports on what it all means.
Chicago’s debt problem The Chicago Sun-Times went looking for reasons why Chicago would turn to private partnerships to fund its new multi-billion dollar plan to rebuild infrastructure. One major reason: the city’s staggering debt. Chicago can’t take out any more bonds to pay for improvements because the city spends almost 23 percent of its annual budget paying off the $7.3 billion in debt it already has.
Illinois’ turn Illinois is getting into the fracking game. Crain’s Chicago Business says the state could see a natural gas-drilling “boomlet” as companies explore southern Illinois for possible drilling.
Bulldozing blitz Partner station WCPN Ideastream had a story on NPR’s Morning Edition today that looks at the effort to tear down vacant houses in Ohio. The state set aside $75 million from its share of the $25 billion nationwide mortgage fraud settlement to pay for demolitions.
No more coal ash The Ludington Daily News reports the city’s historic car ferry has received a grant to convert its fuel source. Without the grant, the coal powered ferry would have been forced to shut down by the EPA. The historic vessel dumps about 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan every year.
#goodnewsforDetroit Twitter says it will open a new office in Detroit. Michigan Radio’s Jennifer Guerra reported the news in tweet form. You have to hear it.
Vacant land on Moran St. in Detroit, as seen on Google Street View.
Detroit has a lot of vacant land. That much, you’ve probably heard by now. On Sunday, the Detroit Free Press took a look at efforts to put that land to use, and along the way, the paper rounded up some eye-popping statistics you might not have heard:
- There are more than 100,000 vacant residential lots in the city of Detroit.
- If you include commercial property, nearly a third of the city is vacant.
- If you put all of the vacant land together, the entire city of Paris could fit inside.
- The vacant land could also fit 25,000 football fields.
- Only 40% of the real estate parcels in the entire city have owners who pay their property taxes on time.
- Over the past 30 years in Detroit, 10 residential structures were demolished for every one that was built.
There are plenty of people who want to put this vacant land to use. But that’s proving more complicated than it sounds, thanks especially to a law passed by Michigan voters in 2006.