Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that the childhood home of erstwhile presidential candidate Mitt Romney is going to be torn down under a new plan by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. The plan calls for the razing of 10,000 vacant or abandoned homes as a way to "right size" the city due to its shrinking population. Citizens have been calling for this plan to start ridding the city of decay and blight. Currently there are 90,000 of these homes.
The Romney home, which sold for over $600,000 back in 2002, is located in an upscale neighborhood called Palmer Woods. The house, which has been in and out of foreclosure since then, now stands abandoned and in a state of disrepair. In terms of sustainability, its been said that the greenest buildings are the ones that already exist.
Interestingly enough, the family lived there from 1941-1953, as the patriarch George Romney became the head of American Motors Corporation, Governor of Michigan, and ultimately the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. What do you think the former head of HUD might say about this turn of events? Doubtful that he would echo the sentiments of his son, who said, "It's sad...but sadder still to consider what has happened to the city of Detroit, which has been left hollow by fleeing jobs and liberal social policies."
The coldness of this remark shows a certain lack of reflection and total misunderstanding of what is actually happening. Detroit, like many urban areas are fighting to come back and this approach is only part of the solution. Mr. Romney is extremely wealthy due to his tenure in the investment banking world. The least he could do is acquire the property and rehabilitate it. Whether this would be an example of noblesse oblige, a token act of green preservation or a simple desire to maintain a sense of his own history, it would prove that he has an idea that unlike the world of Wall Street, some things are worth preserving. Offering worn-out platitudes about failed policies is the type of recycling we can do without.
Jonathan A. Schein is president/CEO of ScheinMedia, publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com