Flint Michigan is a perfect example of a dilapidated rust belt city whose population has dropped from about 200,000 to 110,000 according to recent estimates. This decrease has brought Flint to the point that some neighbourhoods are too sparsely populated to be supported by the tax base. Empty, burnt out or vandalized homes are everywhere leaving garbage trucks, postmen snow ploughs and road crews to service streets that only have a few inhabitants. Neighbourhoods in Flint are dysfunctional and retail businesses struggle because of the low density levels created by 110,000 people spread over 34 square miles in 75 distinct neighbourhoods
A partial solution being considered for Flint’s problem is to tear down part of the city. The city would demolish the worst neighborhoods offering displaced people an equivalent or better homes in more stable parts of the city in an attempt to revitalize communities, make businesses in those areas sustainable and allow the city to curtail costly services in the almost dead zones. The ability to consolidate social services and policing would also go a long way to making Flint a liveable and safe city again. I think this is quite a rational idea and a model that should be used in other dying rust belt cities but I don’t think it goes far enough.
Razing these communities should be part of a greater plan for the eventual rebirth and growth of these cities in a decade or two as Midwestern droughts, increasing population, peak oil and rising sea levels push people back into the great lake regions. A city like Flint should try to divide itself into a series of population hubs surrounded by new mixed use urban agriculture zones. These urban farms would create local food, jobs, pride and independence. Some of the dead zones could be made into parks and recreation areas or even just left to naturalize while others could be used as huge community sized geothermal heat sources for the waves of high density high efficiency homes needed to prepare for peak oil and climate based migration. As new open spaces are created, zoning changes and city acquisitions can assure that the land for an efficient transit system is set aside for future need.
If governments want to pour money into stimulus projects let them do so by rebuilding a city as test bed for the myriad of design and attitude changes needed to make post carbon cities work. It makes more sense than what they are doing now.Recommend this Post
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Posted by Kubera Jones, AKA several other guys. at 10:48 AM