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Eastpointe

March 6, 2013

Eastpointe responds to resident feedback

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — Residents in Eastpointe have responded favorably to feedback forms located on the website and in brochures placed in city buildings.

City Manager Steve Duchane announced the feedback forms, which allow residents to contact the city with questions, complaints and comments, shortly after being appointed to run the city in fall 2011. In just a little more than a year’s time, they have grown quite popular among residents and business owners.

On Feb. 15, Duchane issued a memo to Council regarding the forms. He had printed all the forms filed on the website in the three months prior, and even though he had been addressing them all along and knew that had to be a lot, he was surprised by the size of the stack of paper in front of him.

Each piece of paper in the two-inch stack was a contact form. The issues posed on them had already been addressed, but in his memo, Duchane told the council he’d be forwarding them a copy.

Together, the forms offer a snapshot of the city — the most common problems, fears and desires of the residents.

“Compliments, concerns and complaints are critical in putting action behind concepts of transparency and opening up public discussion so that programs are redesigned to meet the needs of the public,” Duchane said. “I want to hear all points of view — what we do well, what we don’t and what the residents need — in a receptive format so that it can be put to use.”

The feedback and questions vary, but there are some noticeable trends. Two of the most common trends seem to be questions on where to access information on the website and reports of code violations in neighborhoods.

“There are rats running through our yard,” a resident wrote in a form submitted just prior to 1 p.m. Feb. 6. “Next door … there is junk piled behind the garage, and in the yard, there is a pile of wood and stuff. … Can you please help? The rats are getting bigger and bigger.”

Because the form was submitted electronically, a code enforcement officer was sent out that day.

“With our text capabilities and email capabilities on our phones, it can get to the person who handles that type of issue right away and (be) handled very promptly,” Duchane said. “It works really well because it can go from me right down to the person on the street, code enforcement or the water department, right away.”

About half of the forms submitted from mid-November to mid-February were sent from residents and business owners unable to figure out how to access water and tax bills and assessing on the new website. Such information can be accessed by clicking on the icon of a robot holding a magnifying glass in the top right corner of the home page.

About a quarter of the forms were submitted by residents who had questions about city code or wanted to report code violations or traffic issues. 

A missing traffic sign resulted in three inquiries in late November. “There used to be a No Turn Left sign at Nine Mile and Raven,” one form stated. “The sign was knocked down and never replaced. Now, cars are making a left turn and there is too much traffic, plus it used to be illegal. Will the No Left Turn sign be replaced?”

The rest of the forms vary greatly, from businesses touching base with the city and residents who just want to talk about their day, or stop in and say hi, to reports of suspected criminal activity.

In November, a resident filled out a form to report that they believed their neighbors were running an illegal business at their home. A different resident made the same complaint in December. And in January, a resident reported a possible Internet scam.

“There is a person on Craig’s List using the phone number … who is advertising many things, and I believe she is a scammer or selling stolen merchandise,” a form dated Jan. 8 read. “She always says she is moving and tells you the item is sold, but she never moves and the items are always listed.”

“We try to respond to all the email inquiries we get within a couple days or less,” Duchane said. “Some of the things we can just email back the information right away or tag it to the email and respond. It really works very well, and I am very pleased with it. I’m glad it’s been an option of choice for a lot of people.”

To access the City of Eastpointe feedback form online, visit www.cityof eastpointe.net.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.