Grosse Pointe Park blocked one of its busiest borders with Detroit yet again, violating an agreement with Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration after Motor City Muckraker revealed in 2014 that the blockade was partially on Detroit property and therefore illegal.
Grosse Pointe Park has found plenty of clever ways to block Kercheval since 2013 – erecting a large pile of snow, delaying work on a water main project and building a farmer’s market in the middle of the road.
On Saturday, Grosse Pointe Park officials blocked the road with a farmer’s market sign, a clear violation of the community’s agreement with Detroit. By law, Grosse Pointe Park can’t block the border by using Detroit property without city approval, which was never sought and likely would never be received.
On Sunday afternoon, Mayor Duggan’s administration wasted no time demanding that Grosse Pointe Park remove the blockade. Less than 20 minutes after we notified the mayor’s office of the road block, city attorney Melvin “Butch” Hollowell received an assurance from Grosse Pointe Park’s city manager that the blockade would be removed, if it already hasn’t, said Duggan spokesman John Roach.
Many Detroit and Grosse Pointe residents criticized the constant road closures as an ugly symbol of intolerance and classism in a suburban community that banned African Americans and Asians from owning property until about 60 years ago. Grosse Pointe Park’s population is now about 10% black.
Duggan’s administration launched an investigation in late 2014 and agreed with our findings that the road block was partially on Detroit property. In exchange for removing the illegal blockade, Detroit made good on its promise to clean up blight along the border.
When Grosse Pointe Park missed its November 2014 deadline to remove sheds blocking the road, Mayor Duggan bluntly criticized the community’s leaders.
“It’s obvious we can’t trust the Grosse Park Pointe leaders,” Duggan said. “They don’t mean what they say.”
And on Saturday, Duggan was reminded of that – once again.
Grosse Pointe Park still has numerous blockades along its border with Detroit, but those are legal because they’re on GPP property.
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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.