Thursday, July 30, 2009

Flint, Mich.: Growing Stronger By Growing Smaller?

Source: NPR

Dan Kildee wants to save the city where he was raised by shrinking it. The city is Flint, Mich., in Genesee County, where Kildee is treasurer.

"There's an obsession with growth and expansion," Kildee says. "I'm not against growth, but what we really have to recognize is that we have already shrunk. And because we are not growing does not mean we can't be a good city."

The concept of "shrinking cities" is not new. The idea is to bulldoze entire neighborhoods. The smaller city would then be cheaper to run and help pave the way for better times ahead, advocates say.

Today, Kildee says, his hometown "looks like the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans — a sort of a slow-motion [Hurricane] Katrina."

Empty houses and vacant lots can be seen on block after block. The numbers tell the story of a dying city. At its peak, Flint was home to General Motors, with a growing population of some 200,000 people. It was a GM factory town with some 80,000 auto industry jobs. Today, the population is about half what it once was, and only a few thousand auto jobs remain. More than one-third of the homes in Flint have been abandoned. (read more...)

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