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HIGHLAND PARK, MI-The Detroit enclave of Highland Park is getting some more vacant land — and fewer dangerous buildings — thanks to a recent multi-agency effort. The Highland Park Coalition is the lead organization in the effort that is combining the state, Wayne County, the area’s U.S. Attorney and local leaders in demolishing 120 abandoned buildings and cleaning up hundreds of vacant lots in the city that was once home to Chrysler Corp.

In all, some $3.7 million is being contributed to the effort for the various agencies. The coalition’s first act will be the demolition of an abandoned Holiday Inn at the corner of Gerald and Woodward Avenues that has been long considered a primary source of crime and vice and a symbol of the blight that has plagued the city. The demolition is being funded by Clean Michigan Initiative funds from the state.

Until now, cleanup activities have been spearheaded by local residents, the 30th District Court, and community groups, including the Highland Park Illegal Dumping Task Force and Focus: Hope. The efforts are being funded by numerous sources including the city of Highland Park Community Block Grant and local law enforcement grants. The State Office of Drug Control and Policy has awarded $250,000 to help law enforcement officials serve the community more effectively.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said the county will devote resources through several initiatives to help revitalize Highland Park, including the illegal dumping initiative, home repair grant project, housing renovation grants, and the demolition program to remove vacant abandoned houses.

“Wayne County is dedicated to the ongoing work in Highland Park to fight the spread of illegal dumping across the city and to provide funding and resources for neighborhood and commercial improvements,” Ficano says. “In 2004, nearly $1.5 million has been allocated for housing redevelopment activities alone.”

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