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After-school special

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Published 5/12/2004

Nearly half of Grandy Street between Frederick and Kirby on the city’s East Side looks like the result of a barbecue gone horribly awry. Three crispy houses, each in progressively worse shape than the one before, slouch on fields of unbagged garbage. And the neighborhood elementary school is only blocks away.

Carla Williams, a mother of five who lives across the street from the houses, says they have stood overcooked for the last two or three years. She says she called the city to alleviate the blight but hasn’t received any responses.

It provides little comfort that the house we wrote about in May 2002 is gone. Don’t get us wrong — the place was a worthless, burned-out hulk without a prayer of salvation. The city deserves props for tearing it down and hauling it away. It’s just that there are so many others still standing that need to join it.

Williams’ 9-year-old son is one of 350 preschool through sixth-grade students in the area who attend nearby Ferry Elementary School. The school’s principal, Dr. Sharon Staff, says that only about 43 of the 350 children are bused in, primarily because they are special education students. The rest must walk, many of them past the Grandy Street mess.

Staff says school employees and community members drive through the school’s surrounding neighborhood and compile a list of abandoned houses every new school year. They then submit the list to Detroit Public Schools.

But Mario Morrow, executive director of communications for Detroit Public Schools, says that while some principals may take the initiative, “We don’t mandate that principals go out every year and document abandoned homes in the area.”

Morrow says Detroit Public Schools compiled the lists in 2001 and 2002 as a collaborative effort between the school system, the office of the county prosecutor and the city of Detroit. “It hasn’t been done as of yet this year, because we haven’t asked principals to do it,” says Morrow.

Regardless, Staff says she will notify parents whose children live near the Grandy Street houses to take the proper precautions. She adds that quite a few parents already escort their children to or from school.

ASS encourages readers to call the city’s Building Safety and Engineering Department at 313-224-3215 and ask why the three burned houses on Grandy Street still stand, especially since young children must pass them to get to and from school every day.

Joanna Galuszka is a Metro Times editorial intern. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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