If you were with us last week, you know that the Detroit City Council decided to hold off on making a decision regarding the fate of Tiger Stadium until after the City Planning Commission rendered its verdict.
Last Thursday, the commission voted 5-1 against the Kilpatrick administration's plan to demolish most of the historic structure and encircle the field with retail and residential development. We use the term "plan" loosely, because there's neither a developer nor financing in place to make that vision a reality.
No doubt that stark fact influenced the thinking of planning commissioners, but their vote is only advisory; it's the City Council's call that truly matters. That illustrious body was supposed to make a decision Monday, but the council instead created what might be described as a brain delay as members called for more info before making a decision.
From where News Hits sits in the cheap bleachers, it looks like the council is making the right moves. We understand the frustration of Corktown residents, such as the one who spoke Monday asking the council to embrace Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's proposal. But legitimate questions are being raised concerning the city's efforts to find a way to reuse the old ballpark. The implication is that, rather than vigorously pursue redevelopment of "The Corner," city officials ignored potential developers.
To get to the bottom of it, council asked the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. which is overseeing the situation to come back today (Wednesday) with a report detailing all the proposals that have been submitted over the years and reasons why each one was deemed unworthy. Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. noted that he had received one proposal that was previously submitted to the city but generated no response. "That raises some questions in my mind," Cockrel said.
Councilmember Sheila Cockrel also asked for information that "would settle once and for all" who has responsibility for maintaining the old stadium and what the situation is regarding the funding to perform that task. In yet another development, News Hits was told by Peter Comstock Riley, who has been leading efforts to find a reuse for the stadium, that he would renew his once-rejected offer to have his company, Michigan & Trumbull LLC, provide maintenance for a year at no charge.
So, the preservationists are still in there pitching. And the council appears willing to make sure this game gets a fair call. We can't ask for anything more than that.News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]