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October 26, 1984 - Image 17

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-10-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

the two Orthodox communities split
asunder by the big ditch.
• Landscaping to beautify the
decks. Rabbi Kaplan says the federal
government has "significantly re-
neged" on this concession, citing
limited funding available for such
projects under subsequent acts of Con-
gress.
• The appointment of an om-
budsman by and for the Michigan De-
partment of Transportation to serve as
community advocate for the Orthodox
— Rabbi Kaplan.

Rabbi Freedman is proud of the
decks. He describes them as "long, ex-
tensive decks over the expressway
that, if they live up to all their prom-
> ises, will integrate the two Orthodox
areas on either side of the expressway.
It will almost be as if the two sides are
still united. It will still be one commu-
nity. From the air, the community will
appear to be intact. These large 600- to
700-foot decks will be well-lighted and
landscaped, with benches on them.
You'll have all the access that you
have today from both sides (of the ex-
pressway) to the different synagogues
and communal resource locations.
They've even guaranteed us that every
thoroughfare that exists today, and
that includes roads, pedestrian access,
even the tiny paths that are beaten
through the fields in back of the
Jewish Community Center, will con-
tinue to have that same access through
the deck at the Center and at Church
Street.
And they've promised us they
wouldn't work on Shabbat and on the
High Holy Days during the construc-
tion phase, which is also unusual,"
adds Rabbi Freedman. However, some
observers have reported seeing homes
being moved along the route on Shab-
bat last spring and summer.
"They've certainly come through
on their promise to- appoint a commu-
nity advocate," continues Rabbi
Freedman, "so that anyone who has
any problems with how these things
are developing — construction noise,
relocation expenses, all those things —
has a person paid by the state who they
can go to.
"All in all, they've appreciated our
problem in terms of language. Many of
the elderly people affected in the area
are either Russian emigrants or
Yiddish-speaking people, and they've
made numerous accommodations for
the ethnic nature of the community."
Still, the earthmovers continue to
mass at the Huntington Woods bound-
ary of Oak Park, as if they are only
awaiting the order to cross the frontier
at dawn. And there are visible signs of
the coming of the expressway, al-
though some may be a little oblique —
like the creation of an instant baseball
diamond behind Cong. B'nai Moshe
where once stood the homes on Win-
chester Court.
Concessions, after all, are merely
words.
"I hope this country is not like a
banana republic," sighed attorney
Schlussel. The representations of one
Administration should be considered
to be those of the government itself,
and should be adhered to."
But are they?
Schlussel admits the existence of
what he calls a "dilution factor." He
defines it by explaining, They (the
federal government) take back their
promises a little piece at a time until

you don't know that they've taken
them all back."
Schlussel points to the "commit-
ment" for an additional 150 units of
replacement housing for the elderly
promised to the organized Jewish
community as part of the deal" — to
be built on land adjacent to the Feder-
ation Apartments on Ten Mile Road.
"The Administration is being very
evasive on this," says Schlussel, a past
president of the Federation Apart-
ments and negotiator of the 1981 con-
cessions from the federal government.
"I have a feeling they may be trying to
walk away from that corfimitment. We
were told that Jimmy Carter's then-
Secretary of Transportation Neil
Goldschmidt (who is Jewish) had per-
sonally checked with the Department
of Housing and Urban Development
about this. We were advised that as of
fiscal 1985 that's September 1984 —
`you will have a commitment for 150
units (of senior citizen housing) — all
you need do is apply.' We were elated.
But we've heard nothing about it
since."
Rabbi Freedman is less optimis-
tic. "Between me and you, it died, be-
cause no one was sitting on top of it.
Once we lost the battle, I saw to it that
Rabbi Kaplan got in place to handle
the day-to-day struggles, and then I
kind of died on it. I knew it was over for
us. Had we won, I would have had
some fervor and we could have pushed
the housing through. But nobody
cared to stay on top of it."
Goldschmidt, who is still active in
"transportation" — albeit as vice
president of the Beaverton, Oregon-
based Nike Corp., manufacturer of
running shoes — would not speak
with, nor return telephone calls placed
by this reporter.
Already there is talk that both of
the decks across the Ten Mile Road
stretch of the expressway may really
be only 500-feet long and not the prom-
ised 600 to 700 feet. Indeed, a copy of a
confidential State Department of
Transportation interoffice memo

leaked to this reporter says, "The
length of the three decks (one is to be
constructed in Southfield) as currently
proposed will be in the 300-foot to 700-
foot range."
Community activist Zentman,
vice president and investment officer
of Manufacturer's National Bank,
maintains that "neither the federal
nor state government ever had any in-
tention of alternatives to the 1-696
route. Although many alternatives
were' put forth, they were never really
considered. The very reasons given for
the construction of the expressway
were ludicrous. They could have put
all that money into widening the mile
roads. But instead they told us that
once the eastern leg (the 1-75 inter-
change) and the western leg (the 1-96
connection) were completed, they had
no choice but to finish the middle part.
That's absurd. Does that mean that if
you cut off one arm and leg you have to
cut off the other one too?"
Rabbi James Gordon of Young Is-
rael of Oak-Woods agrees with
Zentman that the expressway should
not have been constructed along its
present route. It was always our hope
that the expressway would never come
through here," he explains, "or that it
would be changed (to run) further
north — where it should be. When it
was planned 20 years ago, this may
have been a logical route. But today,
with so many people moved to the
north and northwest (suburbs), a
crosstown expressway should really be
further north."
Does Rabbi Gordon believe the
project could ever have ,been stopped?
"I think the Jewish community got in-
volved much too late," he reflects.
Had they organized a number of years
earlier perhaps something could have
been done. The expressway was origi-
nally scheduled to come through the
intersection of Woodward and 11 Mile
Road in Royal Oak, but the churches
on that corner got together and pro-
tested and the plans were changed.

Continued on next page

Friday, October 26, 1984



The negotiated
concessions tried
to minimize the
effect on the
Orthodox
community.

Rabbi Eliezer Kaplan, Jewish communal ombudsman for the Michigan Highway Departnient.

17

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