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July 03, 2014 - Image 1

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2014-07-03
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Thursday, July 3, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Weekly Summer Edition Michigan Dailycom

Ann Arbor, MI


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Chemistry prof. earns
$1 million grant, set to
improve intro classes

DETROIT - Like most of the
places oo Lyodoo Street, Jody
Sackett's houose is small, white and
boxy. Her lawn is cut, the yard
filled with flowering shrubs. A
wooden bench sits under a large
But the story of Lyndon Street is
complicated. The house next door
is vacant. Plenty of structures are
visibly marked by blight -their
roofs caved in, shells scarred by
fire. A block over sits a tract of
empty land so vast that a fam-
ily uses it to ride their off-terrain
vehicles. Some of the residents
mow the grass in the vacant lots
near their homes just to keep their
stretch of street looking okay.
Detroit's blight problem is no
secret. But for years, community
organizations and city administra-
tions have struggled to find an ade-
quate approach to tackle an issue
spiraling so quickly out of control
- until last winter, when an army
of surveyors from Detroit's newly
convened Blight Removal Task
Force set out to catalog the condi-
tion of every single land parcel.
What they found is sure to
directly impact the city's efforts
to beat blight. But on top of that,
the report is also likely to color
the ways in which neighborhood
alliances, preservation networks,
urban planners and residents
think about their blocks and the
futures they'll have there.
Blank Canvas
Last fall, the Obama Admin-
istration helped establish a local
task force charged with develop-
ing a plan to remove every single
blighted parcel out of Detroit's
380,000 parcels of land, totaling
142 square miles.
In May, the Detroit Blight
Removal Task Force released a
prolific report not only detailing
the scope of the city's blight prob-
lem, but also laying out a set of
policy recommendations designed
to both keep blight from spread-
ing and tear down the houses
that couldn't be saved. The cost of
addressing blight on vacant lots,
residential structures and small
commercial buildings alone is

expected to top $850 million.
Of the parcels in that group,
40,077 structures and 6,135 vacant
lots require immediate attention
in the form of either demolition or
lot clean up. Another 38,429 struc-
tures display indicators of future
blight. The report estimates 80 to
90 percent of those buildings will
eventually face the wrecking ball.
All together, about 22 percent of
the city's land parcels have struc-
tures destined for demolition.
When the plan was presented
to the public and city officials last
month, Task Force co-chair Dan
Gilbert, the chairman of morty.
gage giant Quicken Loans, com-
pared blight to a malignant tumor
"because, like cancer, unless you
remove the entire tumor, blight
grows back."
Sean Jackson is the 25-year-old
Quicken Loans associate Gilbert
appointed to lead the Motor City
Mapping Project, the report's
mapping component. Jackson said
dealing with blight is in many ways
a precursor to improving most
everything else in the city, includ-
ing education, crime, unemploy-
ment and public health. Blight also
affects the city's image, especially
in the eyes of potential investors
and residents.
"Having this image of being the
blight porn city when people come
here and they want to go to the
Packard Plant and see the aban-
doned train station, that's not what
you want your city to be known
for," he said. "You want your city
to be known for its tech commu-
nity or its vibrant downtown or its
arts and culture - not for having a
ton of abandoned buildings in it."
Last winter, the Motor City
Mauctioning vacant homes at a
rate of two per day. Buyers are
required to occupy and fix-up
the house within six months of
purchase. Last week, the auction
reached $1 million in sales.
Claire Nowak-Boyd, the execu-
tive director of Preservation
Detroit, said her organization car-
ried out its own building survey
last year, in partto inform the land
bank of houses prime for restora-

While Jackson saiddmost of
the houses slated for demolition
are the poorly constructed, mid-
century box houses, Nowak-Boyd
argues there are still some older
houses subject to demolition that
deserve saving. Last week, the
Michigan Historic Preservation
Network released a video called
"Vacant, not Blighted."
"To look at every building as
blighted and needing to come
down is a mistake," said MHPN
preservation specialist Emilie
In neighborhoods like the his-
toric, tree-lined Boston-Edison
neighborhood, the auctions are
helping stymie any hint of blight
by reoccupying the street's few
vacant houses.
"It keeps hope alive and it keeps
history alive," said Raquel Rob-
inson as she sipped a beer on the
porch of her childhood home on
Longfellow Street in Boston-Edi-
For the rest of the story, visit

Ann Arbor Police Chief John Seto takes notes on public concerns about game day road closures at a meetingat PiAneer High
City holds meeting on
game day road closures

HHMI awards
funds to-encourage
interest in science
The 2,000 students expected to
take Chemistry 211 next year are
in for a surprise.
Chemistry Prof. Anne McNeil
was recently awarded $1 million
from the Howard Hughes Medi-
cal Institute to improve under-
graduate chemistry education for
the coming academic year. McNeil
is one of 15 science educators to be
The institute's stated pur-
pose in funding each educator is
to encourage more students to
engage with science, math and
engineering and maintain Ameri-
can leadership in those fields.
McNeil's main focus with the
grantwill be revamping introduc-
tory chemistry courses at the Uni-
versity, namely Chemistry 211, an
introductory laboratory course,
which she believes are important
because they're required for many
science and engineering majors
and careers and are often stu-
dents' first experience in a scien-
tific lab setting.
McNeil has observed that 37
percent of students changed their
course of study after taking intro-
ductory chemistry courses, which
she attributed to the class's cur-


and c
ing Int
game b
and Re
from th

PD Chief John the University, several roads were
closed before and after football
talks traffic and games this year.
Planned modifications from last
ety concerns for year's closings include blocking off
Main Street southbound one hour
tball Saturdays prior to kick off instead of three,
prompted by community input.
By EMMA KERR While Main Street northbound will
Daily StaffReporter remain closed three hours prior to
games, both north and southbound
Seto, Ann Arbor Police traffic on Main Street will be open
led a community meeting after the game.
ty to discuss traffic concerns Community complaints expressed
hanges during University at the meeting included a lack of
l games and the upcom- police officers directing traffic after
ernational Champions Cup the games, traffic control strategy
'etween Manchester United alterations for the upcoming soc-
al Madrid. cer game, making more one-way
owing recommendations streets to create more movement
te Department of Homeland out of the city post-game and the
:y in 2013 and a request from need for more communication

between attendees about what
roads will be closed and how the
traffic flow is managed.
Various modifications, such as
the Main Street closure, will occur
for all seven of the Michigan foot-
ball games this fall, including the
Slippery Rock University game.
Along with manual control of traf-
fic lights, officers will be sent out to
observe traffic and report issues,
various streets will be closed and
contingencies are being considered
to deal with possible construction.
Seto cited weather and a lack of
available officers to execute more
extensive traffic planning as the
cause for extreme delays, specifi-
cally post-game. Another cause of
the extensive traffic jam post-game
is drivers not utilizing all available
See FORUM, Page 2

rent nature.
"Chem 211is a class that mostly
freshmen take, either first semes-
ter or after they take General
Chemistry," she said. "The general
consensus is that the class is kind
of boring and not challenging,
because it can be a recap of what
students have already learned in
high school, and many people lose
McNeil said students' first lab
experience should be engaging
because it's crucial for success and
eventual advancement in a pleth-
ora of careers. She added that she
doesn't want students to decide
against being doctors because
they didn't enjoy their first chem-
istry class freshman year.
Though time and large enroll-
ment numbers have proved to be
an obstacle in the past, McNeil
plans to make the lab an oppor-
tunity for students to get excited
about chemistry by allowingthem
the chance to make and test more
of their own original hypotheses
and creating lab exercises with
more practical application, so
they're more relevant to students'
lives. One of the experiments
she anticipates will be popular
involves converting vegetable oil
used in restaurants into biodiesel.
While a large portion of higher
education funding is generally
allocated for graduate students,
McNeil said she believes invest-
ing in undergraduate education
is important because it's the time
that studentsbegin fostering their
interests and deciding on careers.
See PROF., Page 8
Vol. CXXIV, No. 113 (P2014 The Michigan Daily
A RTS .....................................6
CLASSIFIEDS ...........8
CROSSWORD .... .......8
SPO RTS...............................10

I I i

* -
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Passenger pigeon
Musuem of Natural
History unveils exhibit on
the history of the species.

Water crisis
From the Daily: DWSD
must ensure rights of all
citizens to water supplies

Electric Forest
Two Daily Arts Editors
chronicle their adventures
at the iconic music festival

Beilein's vigil
As three players head to
the NBA, one coach holds
out hope for a fourth


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