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Grosse Pointe: same song, different dance

A special east side edition of Metro Retro



A look back at what was happening this week in Metro Times...

Last week, our attention was drawn to a teapot-sized tempest in Grosse Pointe, where a handful of outspoken residents claiming Metro Times was involved with “sex trafficking” demanded that the paper be removed from the library’s racks. In a remarkable unanimous decision, the priggish Grosse Pointe Library Board voted to move copies of the paper from the free racks to behind the librarian’s desk for distribution to those 18 years of age and older.

That an organization ostensibly dedicated to expanding people’s minds would deep-six our award-winning paper might sound strange — until you review our past coverage. It turns out that the family of east side suburbs has a long history of being less than generous when it comes to outsiders, art, minorities, even their own public library. This week, we take a look back.

Six months ago, in Metro Times: Remember that mighty snow wall on Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park that threatened to sever off a main artery from the suburb to Detroit? Grosse Pointe’s Public Works department has said that the snow pile was pretty standard — they just were waiting on having the resources to move it during the overwhelming polar vortex. Around the same time, first reports were surfacing that a farmers market would be built at the same area months later — effectively cutting off the area from vehicular traffic for good. That plan is definitely a go now, with construction just beginning these past few weeks, leaving that particular entrance to (and from) the Motor City already blockaded by a large barn.

Five years ago in Metro Times: Grosse Pointe Park reminded residents that they’re anti-fun by demanding one homeowner in the area take down the paintings she displayed in her yard. The city had an ordinance that required residents to get permission to put a painting or sign on their property, and had been sending letters asking the homeowners to remove the artwork for two years. The city then took them to court, where their lawyer fought for their right to display works of art on their property, much to the annoyance of elected officials. 

Eight years ago in Metro Times: The “Cabbage Patch,” an area of rentals and flats in Grosse Pointe Park, was set to be the main beneficiary of a city-wide tax increase proposal. The 20-year, almost $1 million tax hike was meant to fund a reduction of rental properties in the Patch, most of which the city had said were vacant and hurting property values of the area. The pocket was mostly home to newlyweds, young professionals, students, and residents new to the United States. The hope was that these rental properties would be demolished and turned into single-family homes more typical to the Pointes, which upset some metro Detroiters, even prompting some to say that Grosse Pointe was attempting to keep out minorities who might be passing through the area. One unsettling rumor alleged that residents were beginning to call the area “Grosse Pointe Dark.” 

Ten years ago in Metro Times: A quiet Grosse Pointe erupted into librarian-fused protests when 30 to 40 picketers marched outside of the Grosse Pointe Public Library. Thirty-one librarians in Grosse Pointe had been without a union contract since 2002. Library workers claimed that they were grossly underpaid and had inadequate health and pension benefits. Librarians at the time were earning salaries as low as $30,000 a year. 


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