GROSSE POINTE PARK (WWJ/AP) – Officials have reached an agreement to remove farmers market sheds that block a roadway between the poverty-pocked east side of Detroit and upscale Grosse Pointe Park.
Controversy came about earlier this summer when officials in Grosse Pointe Park started building a concrete square for a new farmers market in the middle of Kercheval Avenue at Alter Road, a symbolic dividing line between the cities, prohibiting traffic to drive straight through the east-west route.
The construction sparked protests and caused many nearby residents to question whether Grosse Pointe Park — an affluent, predominantly white community — designed the square with the intention of keeping residents of bankrupt Detroit out of the suburbs.
Under a deal announced Tuesday, the blockade is coming down and the existing temporary farmers market will be removed by November.
Grosse Pointe Park will reopen drivers’ access to the blocked off Kercheval Avenue. The city will also build a permanent farmers market and plaza that will “be welcoming to Detroiters” and “visually appealing from all directions.”
As part of the deal, Detroit officials agreed to remove several abandoned buildings along Alter Road, between Jefferson and Mack Avenue. The buildings must be removed by the end of November.
Going forward, the cities agreed to collaborate on efforts to improve their border areas.
“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,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement. “This agreement will help accomplish that.”
Officials in Grosse Pointe Park said their plan was not designed in any way to keep Detroiters out of their community. Instead, they said the plan was drawn up to increase the walkability of the area and create a pedestrian mall with new retail, dining and entertainment options. The goal, they said, was to attract young professionals to the community.
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