Measuring Town Quality not Through Growth?

Since when has manisfest destiny not mattered in our world? Or at least to those within this country? Well hopefully its starting to die thanks to a small Michigan town, Flint. From a New York Times article on a topic I learned about listening to BBC World News

Instead of waiting for houses to become abandoned and then pulling them down, local leaders are talking about demolishing entire blocks and even whole neighborhoods.

The population would be condensed into a few viable areas. So would stores and services. A city built to manufacture cars would be returned in large measure to the forest primeval.

So rather than try to re-build they are giving up?

“Decline in Flint is like gravity, a fact of life,” said Dan Kildee, the Genesee County treasurer and chief spokesman for the movement to shrink Flint. “We need to control it instead of letting it control us.”

The recession in Flint, as in many old-line manufacturing cities, is quickly making a bad situation worse. Firefighters and police officers are being laid off as the city struggles with a $15 million budget deficit. Many public schools are likely to be closed.

So yes, giving up indeed. Sounds pretty un-American to me. They must be terrorists!

Nothing will happen immediately, but Flint has begun updating its master plan, a complicated task last done in 1965. Then it was a prosperous city of 200,000 looking to grow to 350,000. It now has 110,000 people, about a third of whom live in poverty.

Flint has about 75 neighborhoods spread out over 34 square miles. It will be a delicate process to decide which to favor, Mr. Kildee acknowledged from the driver’s seat of his Grand Cherokee.

Jokes aside, the basic idea is this. Flint has come to the realization that they will never be a thriving town of 200,000 again. The problem is Flint today is built as a town of at least 200,000, being spread across 34 square miles. Well it makes no sense to spread out that much when you only have a population around 100,000. So rather than try to re-build the decrepit outlying areas the town of Flint is going to turn them into green spaces and focus on spending all money to rebuild the core areas of town, and save money at the same time too (or at least not waste money).

A block adjacent to downtown has the potential for renewal; it would make sense to fill in the vacant lots there, since it is a few steps from a University of Michigan campus.

On many streets, the weekly garbage pickup finds only one bag of trash. If those stops could be eliminated, Mr. Kildee said, the city could save $100,000 a year — one of many savings that shrinkage could bring.

The green spaces can be anything from a forest, to a park, to just simple trees and grass.

“If it’s going to look abandoned, let it be clean and green,” he said. “Create the new Flint forest — something people will choose to live near, rather than something that symbolizes failure.”

I think it’s a wonderful idea and a great way to make use of land no one wants to buy. Another way Flint can make money, and hopefully someone is thinking of this, is the city can create a committee for the soul purpose of going around and consulting to other towns to help them with similar ventures. What a great way to help the world and do some good.