Grosse Pointe Park to tear down border blockade under pact with Mayor Duggan

Grosse Pointe Farmer's market_7396

The rear of the Grosse Pointe Farmer’s Market faces Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling

Grosse Pointe Park has agreed to remove a controversial farmer’s market that blocked off the border of Detroit this summer under a potentially landmark agreement between the two disparate communities.

Mayor Mike Duggan, who has not spoken publicly about the blockade, quietly reached a pact this week with Grosse Pointe Park Mayor Palmer T. Heenan and Mayor Pro Tem Gregory Theokas.

Under the agreement, Grosse Pointe Park will remove its farmer’s market and re-open Kercheval to Detroit traffic by November. In return, Duggan agreed to demolish abandoned buildings and remove blight at the border.

Detroit side of border. Photo by Michael Brouwer.

Detroit side of border. Photo by Michael Brouwer.

The agreement comes after we published a story that showed Grosse Pointe Park built a portion of the farmer’s market on Detroit property, and never gained the required approval to do so. The city’s law department said it was considering legal action.

“We are very excited about our new partnership, which will improve the area and benefit residents in both Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday. “It became clear during this process that we all share the common goal of creating a safe and attractive environment that links our communities in a neighborly way. This agreement will help accomplish that.”

The blockade incensed many Detroiters because of the history of division between the two communities. Grosse Pointe Park officials said they meant no harm and wanted to create a more walkable community.

Under the agreement, the city of Detroit will install a traffic roundabout at Kercheval and Alter to compliment a similar one on Kercheval in Grosse Pointe Park.

“This collaborative effort will result in our creating a seamless transition between Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park,” said Mayor Pro Tem Gregory Theokas.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Brian R. McCaughrin

    Good Evening: With the kind of Taxes Grosse Pointe Park Resident pay, They should not have to be exposed to look at any plight around them, and that is right next door to them, called Detroit… The design, and Building of the “Farmer Market” was a great idea, and just because the
    Detroit Mayor is stuck with bankrupted city and plight, that should not mean Any Grosse Pointe Park Resident’s have to see it daily. The old saying is: take care of your own back yard, and not what goes on in ours..

  • Joeysback

    Oh, and about the “racism” discussion….When you use terminology that is admittedly insensitive, why is your first reaction to throw up your hands and scream, “I am not a racist”? Maybe it would be better to say, “I’m sorry; I did not mean to offend, but I DO see your point. I will be more careful about that in the future”. And maybe it would help if some people just admitted to themselves–and then maybe to others–that there is such a thing as “white privilege”. It doesn’t make you a racist to realize that you DO have it better, your kids have it better, your wives have it better…it only means that you should try to change things so that everyone has privilege, even if that means only that you just open your minds a little!

  • Joeysback

    GPP can’t seem to make up its mind(s). First it wants new business, a mini-Royal Oak with restaurants, BARS, and (dare we even hope?) entertainment, along with rental property being converted back into single family dwellings, “students” as the primary renters, a “walkable” shopping area, etc. Already that list has a number of things which are mutually exclusive. They want to keep property values up, but have been tearing down perfectly beautiful brick homes for “parking lots”, but these are neither signed, nor graded for parking, and don’t even have entrances. (It looks like a mini-Detroit on my block.) I can almost guarantee that a whole group of young drunks wandering around the neiighborhood at 2 a.m. would rival whatever “horrors” GPP pictures would occur with open traffic on Kercheval! (Isn’t Janet’s condemned? Couldn’t that have been torn down for parking instead of my lovely neighbor’s home?)
    This whole thing has been a mish-mash mess from the beginning, and whatever peace and quiet I enjoyed over here in the Cabbage Patch is being eroded quickly. And what is this so-called “round about” supposed to accomplish? It has drivers and pedestrians horribly confused already, and it isn’t even a roundabout. (Are there NO city planners here? Has no one ever seen a real roundabout?) A good traffic light would be MUCH safer! And,,,can we get a grocery store back in the neighborhood?

  • Brian R. McCaughrin

    I, see GPP Government, fell under the pressure from reporter Steve Neaving and Detroit Mayor. You should keep Farmer Market where it is, and just moved that building back on GPP property, and be done with it.
    GPP Resident’s should not have to look at the plight next door in Detroit.

  • MickinDetroit

    “The agreement comes after we published a story that showed Grosse Pointe Park built a portion of the farmer’s market on Detroit property, and never gained the required approval to do so. The city’s law department said it was considering legal action”.

    Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence, . Your reporting was incorrect. the temporary sheds ARE in GP.. 6 inches of curb might not be. With the exception of the 6 inches that MAY be encroaching, GP needs zero permission from Detroit on any of this.

    End of the day, GP got 100% of what it wanted. restricted access to the Kerch in the Park area and for Detroit to take care of it’s responsibilities.

  • maggiemay

    Be interesting to see if Detroit keeps their part of the bargain.

  • Oberyn_Martell

    Traffic round about and plaza that ultimately will still cut off traffic flow onto Kercheval. Detroit gets to say the sheds are being torn down and GPP is still going to have its walkable commercial district with the road effectively choked off. Win win.

    • tmda

      I imagine there will be even less traffic on Kercheval now.

      If there’s one thing people hate more than making a couple of right or left turns at a low speed, it’s going around in a circle at a low speed. Couple that with Kercheval ending another mile to the West at the auto plant, and you’re basically looking at a pedestrian path in the near future. Which isn’t a bad thing.

      Also, I bet we see a commercial development with a parking garage at the southeast corner of Alter/Kercheval, also limiting traffic in the area.

    • MickinDetroit

      …and Detroit adds ANOTHER roundabout at Kerch and Alter FURTHER choking traffic.

  • bebow

    The sight of our Third World squalor is bothering white people.

    • Gary

      It should bother everyone

      • bebow

        I agree, but it doesn’t. The neighborhood Third World squalor was fine with the Detroit’s ruling elite until it bothered GPP people. Pure Ferguson.

  • tmda

    Ultimately, if this brings about a more pedestrian-freindly commercial area for Grosse Pointe Park, that’s all that matters to me. That was the goal from the inset, so if two circular vehicular thoroughfares gets the job done, nifty.

  • new_detroit

    Great outcome! Good to see common sense prevail. Thank you as well Steve for sticking with this issue. Your reporting certainty helped shed light on this injustice.

    • Oberyn_Martell

      I don’t think it will really resolve your biggest issue though. This new solution is still going to have you shucking and jiving through roundabouts with a plaza that I imagine will shut down driving frequently.

      • new_detroit

        If it’s a real roundabout, there will be no issue.

        Also, can you please not give every comment a racist overtone?

        • Oberyn_Martell

          Don’t expect others to compensate for what you see as racism. Sounds like you might have some issues to confront.

          • new_detroit

            “Shucking and jiving” is a well known racist term and if you’re so ignorant as to not know that, I’m here to inform you now.

          • Oberyn_Martell

            I can’t help you.

          • new_detroit

            You should focus on helping yourself. There’s no reason to be a bigot, it just makes you an angry person and taints everything you say (as seen in your comments on this blog). The black people of Detroit are not your enemy. They are your neighbors and there’s a lot you an learn from them.

            Since I’ve lived in Detroit I’ve not once heard a black person say anything disparaging about white people. Unfortunately I come to this blog and the comment section is regularly filled with hatred. Much of it by you and GP for Life. You guys need to grow up. Is your life really that bad that you need to look for someone to beat up?

          • Oberyn_Martell

            I’m sorry which comments point you to Detroit or black people being my enemy? Or even hatred for that matter.

          • new_detroit
          • Oberyn_Martell

            Ha ok that’s what I thought. Take one expression (which I assure you was harmless) and that has now turned all of my comments into hatred for black people and Detroit. Good work detective.

          • new_detroit

            racist != harmless

          • Oberyn_Martell

            I’m still waiting for evidence of my hatred for black people and Detroit. Your narrative is weak.

          • new_detroit

            It’s not my evidence, you’re the one who said it. I’m just trying to get you to see what you’re saying isn’t OK. When somebody tells you you’re being racist, you’re being racist and need to take a step back and reexamine your viewpoint. This isn’t even a grey area, you used an extremely loaded/negative term targeted directly at black people. There’s nothing else I can say about it other than I hope you eventually see the error of your ways.

          • Oberyn_Martell

            Ah but you made the assertion that all of my comments have racist overtones and I’m a bigot who spends my time hating Detroit and black people. You pointed to one pathetically weak data point to make such an inflammatory statement.

          • tmda

            Shucking and jiving was certainly not the best choice of terms to use, that’s for certain; however, this is a loaded statement as well:

            “Also, can you please not give every comment a racist overtone?”

            Painting with a broad brush when it is not needed is never a good idea.

            Painting with broad brushes makes people start to only see the wide swatches of paint, and not see the individual (and often, more important) aspects.

            And have you ascertained that Oberyn_Martell is not black himself? Or does that make a difference? I don’t know, but perhaps mistakes were made on both sides that propagated a argument that was not essential?

            Just my .02$. I’m sure that’s all it’s worth. Ha.

          • Oberyn_Martell

            Does “shucking and jiving” have negative connotations sure I won’t argue that. I didn’t use it in a negative way and it happens to be a fun phrase to use instead of say “bobbing and weaving”. I don’t typically like to pander to the whiners with my statements. If I meant it to be racially charged I would say s.o I’m anonymous on here it isn’t like I have some fear of reprisal. It was not directed at a group of people it was used to new_detroit who is not black as I understand it. Even if he was it still wasn’t used with a negative slant. With two roundabouts it will be a gauntlet to maneuver through.

          • new_detroit

            I wish you could understand that you can never use a racist term in “a fun way”. It just doesn’t work like that.

          • Oberyn_Martell

            We differ on viewpoints of how terms are used. I will agree with you on very harsh or offensive words like the “n” word or the “f” word but I’m not in favor of heavily censoring people. It gives words too much power where there shouldn’t be any. You made the statement that if someone tells you that you are being racist then you are being racist but that kind of thinking is how you end up with the thought police.

          • new_detroit

            It’s not about censoring or “power” (not sure what that one even means tbh), it’s about having empathy and historical awareness around the terms you choose to use.

            I’m actually not someone that self-censors a lot and I say all manner of controversial things. I don’t believe one bit in censorship. I just don’t see any upside to using racially insulting language (and that’s what you’re doing by using loaded terms like “shucking and jiving”).

          • Oberyn_Martell

            Yes but labeling someone a bigot and hating black people with no real frame of reference has lots of upside. Duly noted. If you really don’t understand the concept of taking power away from words then I guess that explains a lot.

          • Brentano

            OUTSIDE OPINION: youre a racist

          • Oberyn_Martell

            Well thank god nothing in my life hinges on your opinion. If you had said insensitive I would say sure that’s a fair assessment. To jump to racism is unsound thinking.

          • queenie1

            What is the first thing you picture in your mind when “shuckin’ and jivin'” is used? Blackface entertainers, black people “shuckin’ and jivin'” as entertainers 100 years ago – now say “bobbin’ and weavin” and boxing are the first thing I think of. Totally not the same, shuckin’ and jivin’ is racist. Yea when someone tells you that you’re a racist, time for a look at yourself.

          • Oberyn_Martell

            It actually isn’t an image conjured up for me at all. I don’t attach a connotation to it at all. Perhaps you need to look at yourself if that’s what you think about.

          • new_detroit

            Thanks tmda, great points. I agree, I was too broad. I’m just tired of seeing a lot of extreme racism in the comments here and his original comment really set me off. It was very much in line with other comments I’ve seen here (not always from him but the tone is remarkably similar).

          • tmda

            I do what I can, but for what it is worth, new_detroit, that was the first comment from Oberyn that I thought was anywhere near offensive. Oberyn seems like a very level-headed individual that can see both sides of an argument.

            That gets to greater issues of racism, and trying to my objective observations with a subjective subject. But I digress on that.

            A bigger question is,…will this be a grand case of ‘be careful what you wish for?’ if the Detroit-constructed roundabout at the Kercheval/Alter intersection proper ends up causing more traffic diverting from the area than the cut curb did?

            I’d assume no, as there is still some sort of path to take to continue along Kercheval (as there always really has been, but I digress on that as well). However, I’d expect to see Grosse Pointe Park AND Detroit closing the roundabouts for traffic on numerous occasions, especially if the pocket parks brought up in the full agreement come about.

            So….things may actually be no different when it comes to actualities. I guess perception is monarch? We will see.

          • new_detroit

            I’m actually fine if they want to block off traffic on the weekend for the market. My use case was getting lunch during the week, so if they install proper roundabouts, there should be no problem.

            The other issue was that the blockade WAS at the very least a classist decision especially given that its predecessors were a huge gaping hole and snow drifts — along with the many other blockades between GPP and Detroit.

            As long as it exists, GPP comes off like a tiny backwards thinking enclave and not a modern livable community. I’m glad for their sake that they’re removing it.

          • tmda

            Well, a water main break would cause a hole in the road, and then using that area of the street to place the snow after a snowstorm, which would have been impassable anyway is not the worst idea in the road. A mound of snow is usually much better way to indicate ‘hey, you shouldn’t drive over this hole in the road’ than an orange cone or two. So, the previous impediments….not that much of a concern, I would think. Even more when you realize the snow was there for ONE day.

            And Detroit is responsible for at least one of the blocked streets between GPP and Detroit, so the issue is not a clear-cut as some present it.

            Furthermore, if blocking off a street from car traffic for residential/commercial/industrial development turns a municipality into a ‘tiny backwards-thinking enclave’ from ‘a modern livable community’, then….I would guess that there are not many, if any, ‘modern livable communities’ around. But again, just my .02$

          • Oberyn_Martell

            It’s not worth it tmda. He’s too “enlightened” for the rest of us insects.

          • new_detroit

            Or they could like, I don’t know, FIX the giant hole in the road! That what a “modern livable community” would do 😉

          • tmda

            Well, when the water main breaks and flood Kercheval in mid-November, and the winter weather and snow sets in before repairs can occur, well….it’s somewhat hard to do that.

            For the record, the hole in the street was fixed by February, shortly after they removed the snow, so GPP has that going for them.

            http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2014/02/kercheval_barricade_at_detroit.html

          • new_detroit

            The hole was still there when I moved here in April. It existed until they built the new blockade.

          • tmda

            The hole may have been there, but the road was usable, as I used it during the period. Water main construction and road repair/construction are two different things, from what I understand. Temperature plays a big role in relation to the composition of the street, from what I understand. However, I am not an expert on the subject, and if someone wants to show me otherwise, I am happy to be educated.

            And the word blockade is defined as an act or something to seal off a place to prevent goods or people from entering or leaving. Nothing in this project ever prevented anyone from entering or exiting the city. The route may not have been direct, but there was no blockade. Instead, an alternate route or detour was created, still allowing access and exit. English major rant over.

            We are nitpicking small details here, and I still haven’t seen one thing in relations to these ‘blockades’ that show classist/racist behavior. I’ll certainly call it out when I see it, but then again, we get into objective views of a subjective subject.

            In any case, I’m not sure how anyone could be against this new plan, unless they are going to be against the road basically being shut down every weekend in the summer and fall. As development continues, I would assume there will be more closures to spur pedestrian traffic, interesting events, and the like. That’s speculation on my part, of course, but it’s not hard to imagine, with the frequent closures of Kercheval in GPP already.

          • I don’t need to look for people “to beat up”, the opportunities just present themselves from the peanut gallery.

  • Betsy

    Let’s hope they’ve learned the correct definition of a roundabout! This does seem to be a welcome development though. GPP City Council meeting next Monday August 25th 7pm.