By Terry Foster
They are idiots.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Inspiring Entrepreneurs & Business Owners
That is the only word I can come up with after a Free Press report today said Wayne County officials would rather finish the failed jail disaster than build a soccer stadium for a Major League Soccer team.
We all see the half built jail every time we go downtown for a Lions or Tigers game. You cannot help but shake your head at this eye sore that is only trumped by the train station urban blight on the other side of downtown.
I understand that hundreds of millions of dollars have been sunk into the failed jail. It will take hundreds of millions to finish it. However, it is time to cut your losses and allow businessmen Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores to finish this project if they are able to secure an MLS team.
It is also my understanding that if they do not get an MLS team there could still be minor league professional soccer downtown. Regardless, downtown Detroit is better off with any type of soccer stadium than a jail right in the middle of all the action.
Heck, a bowling alley would be a better option. It seems as if the people that run the county disagree and are committed to this disaster.
Commissioner Raymond Basham D-Taylor still supports the Gratiot site.
“We should finish what we started,” Basham told the Free Press. “We need to move forward in this county. I think it would be worse than a step back, it would be a step and fall to again switch gears on the jail project.”
Wayne County Commission Vice Chair Alisha Bell, D-Detroit agreed telling the Free Press “Until we have exhausted all possible measures, which we haven’t done yet, I’m in favor of continuing to build the jail at the Gratiot site.”READ MORE: 10 Places To Celebrate National Barbecue Day In Metro Detroit
A total of $151 million was spent before the project was halted over no-bid contracts, lack of supervision and undisclosed cost overruns of $41 million, and more. The county now spends about $1.2 million a month to maintain the site.
Whose bright idea was it to build there in the first place?
The key word is connection. Downtown Detroit has always been a pedestrian nightmare since J.L. Hudson’s, Crowley’s and dozens of other stores, shops, bakeries and shops left downtown. It is now returning to becoming a walkable downtown.
Why would you want a jail and court house blocking the connection between Greek town and the Stadium district? The mindset should have been to build a complex outside of downtown. There is plenty of abandoned land to do so.
I want to see entertainment and housing in this area. I want to see people having fun on weekends, not being led around in ankle cuffs and orange jump suits. I want to see more connection in downtown Detroit, not another spot that people avoid.
At the very least speak with the Gores and Gilbert group and see if something can be worked out.
If Wayne County continues to stall it is likely that the stadium would be pushed to the River Front near West Jefferson. It is a beautiful site along the river. I just don’t like it.
This is beyond the borders of downtown tucked behind the United States Post office. Once again a major project becomes a fortress. It does not connect with downtown Detroit. It is a stadium that would sit off by itself and you’d need a jig saw puzzle to figure out to get there.
But I am still holding out hope that the idiots change their minds.MORE NEWS: Chief Search: Detroit Board Of Police Commissioners Agree To Find Candidates
(Foster can be reached at Terry.Foster@cbsradio.com)