There was a time when Detroit was Michigan’s industrial powerhouse. The home of the automotive industry that sustained the state for decades, Detroit seemed to be invincible. That is no longer the case. The city needs a new direction — and Mayor Dave Bing has a plan to bring Detroit hope. Recently, Bing’s plan to redevelop Detroit, The Detroit Works Program, has spurred criticism from many residents. Despite the opposition, this initiative would be beneficial for the city. Though their concerns are legitimate, residents need to realize the plan’s potential to reinvent the city. At the same time, Bing owes it to his city to create a concrete and practical plan for urban redevelopment.

On Sept. 14, Bing held a community forum at Detroit City Hall for citizens to discuss redevelopment ideas for the city. Currently, 60,000 of Detroit’s 387,000 lots are vacant, according to a Sept. 15 Detroit Free Press article. In his address, the mayor expressed his belief that removing blighted properties and centralizing the population closer to downtown would create a safer, more successful and more appealing city. Many residents aren’t happy with Bing’s plan — which is still very much in the planning stages — and voiced their views at the forum last week. Bing has planned four more forums in order to gather more community input.

While Bing’s ambitious urban redevelopment plan is a large project for the frail city to undertake, it’s a good idea. The city’s economy has struggled for years. Economic hardship has led to increased crime and an unsustainable local budget. The city needs a radical change to eradicate urban decay and resurrect the economy. Demolishing blighted properties would combat low property values and open land for redevelopment and help balance the city’s budget.

Yet, city residents’ objections are valid. Because many of these residents are living in poverty, many simply don’t have the financial resources to move toward the center of the city. And Bing hasn’t explained how he would make moving realistic. Confusion about how the plan would be implemented has led many to believe that they are simply being forced from their homes. In a Free Press article, Detroit resident Denise Greer said, “Bing just wants to take us out … they are going to take away our city.”

For the plan to garner public support and move forward, Bing needs to create a plan that will make it economically viable for low-income households to relocate to more dense parts of the city. As mayor, Bing has a responsibility to his citizens to make their lives better. This implicit contract with the people of Detroit means he owes them a concrete description of how his urban redevelopment plan will work — and he needs to ensure that residents will have a voice.

The plan to eliminate blight and create new options appears to be a viable option for the future of Detroit. Residents should work with Bing in order to make the project a success. But the burden is on Bing to give residents a good reason to get on board with the plan.

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