05 May

Detroit Students install benches with books at bus stops


Students from Detroit Enterprise Academy installed this bench with books Thursday on East Jefferson at Lillibride in Detroit.  /  Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press

 Students install benches with books at bus stops, but run into DDOT opposition

By Marlon A. Walker   Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

The McGlynn: To the Detroit City authorities: Get the Hell out of the way!

When Charles Molnar and his crew from Detroit Enterprise Academy christened their first homemade bus stop bench Thursday on East Jefferson, they did so thinking of the hundreds of riders — many of them elderly — who have to stand and wait on city buses.

But the Detroit Department of Transportation

rejected their creation Thursday, saying the crew failed to get city approval and the bench would be removed.

But Molnar did not take the city’s rejection sitting down.

On Friday, he and friend Kyle Bartell erected the second bench made of reclaimed wood, this one at the corner of Trumbull and Grand River.

Molnar was undeterred by the directive from DDOT officials that said the benches would be removed if they were affixed to bus stops and instead was encouraged by the reaction from people who heard of his quest, he said.

“It’s a great cause — and a learning experience for the kids,” said Molnar, 22, who recently finished his junior year at Wayne State University  where he’s an urban studies student.


Molnar said he wanted to adopt a bus stop after seeing an elderly woman waiting a while for a DDOT bus. That morphed into the larger mission of outfitting all city bus stops with benches if they didn’t have seating. He said he went to DDOT officials about a year ago and got the blessing of someone there whose name he couldn’t immediately recall.

Students  from area schools have chipped in their time to help build the benches, which are fancied with built-in bookcases.

Officials with DDOT did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Molnar and Bartell, a 25-year-old WSU graduate, were back at the site of the first bench to see whether DDOT officials had gone through with their promise. The bench was still there, as were admirers of their work. One man gave a donation to help build more benches.

Across town at the site of bench No. 2, a man and woman loaded down with shopping bags sat comfortably Friday afternoon.

They complimented Molnar and Bartell on the bench and said they should take credit for the benches, maybe create a T-shirt and logo, the woman suggested.

“We’re just trying to help,” Bartell said.

Knowing the benches were being put to use was all they needed, Molnar said.

“We’re feeling pretty good and pretty confident,” he said. “With all the support we’re getting from the community, there’s no reason we should stop. It’s already out there. People know about it, and they’re looking for it.

“I’m putting the third one up next week.”

Contact Marlon A. Walker: 313-223-4531 or

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