MACOMB TOWNSHIP — In her second State of the Township address, Macomb Township Supervisor Janet Dunn played the role of educator, informing all those in attendance about what’s happening within her quiet community.
Dunn spoke before a room filled with government leaders at the municipal, county and state levels in an event hosted by the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 21 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club. She introduced many statements in her 25-minute speech with the phrase, “Did you know?” using it as a launching point to share some of the good news that has made its way to Macomb Township over the past year.
In her opening remarks, the supervisor referenced the words of Dr. Jim Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College. At his 30th annual Macomb County Economic Forecast in January, Jacobs predicted that the county would experience a year of solid, sustained growth in 2014.
“Did you know that Macomb Township has already been experiencing that growth?” Dunn asked. “Look around when you drive home or when you go to work. There is construction everywhere in these 36 square miles.”
As evidence, she pointed out that the township issued 608 single-family home building permits in 2013. There are also currently 15 new subdivisions containing 1,879 homes at various stages of approval, she said.
In addition, Dunn highlighted the vast levels of government experience that Macomb Township enjoys — 753 collective years among its 78 employees, and 102 years among the seven members of the Board of Trustees — as well as its favorable tax rates, which are among the lowest in the county at just 3.6925 mills.
“We are the envy of neighboring communities,” she said. “Is it any wonder, then, that so many people want to move to Macomb Township?”
In the short period since the 2010 U.S. Census was conducted, Dunn noted that the township’s population has grown from 79,580 residents to an estimated 85,000.
She added that to support this population increase, a number of new businesses have opened in Macomb Township over the past year, while many more are set to launch in 2014. These include Gigi’s Cupcakes, Buscemi’s party shop, Achatz Burgers, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, Noodles & Company, Office Max, a Subaru car dealership and an Xfinity store. Developments have also taken place in the township’s industrial and medical districts, such as Triumph Gear Systems’ recent $16.6 million expansion and the opening of a new concussion clinic at St. John’s Hospital.
“Thank you so much for coming to Macomb Township,” the supervisor said. “You make our lives so much easier by locating close to us.”
Dunn recognized St. Peter’s Lutheran School and Lutheran North High School for hosting a Patriot Walk last year commemorating the anniversary of 9/11, during which about 900 students were able to raise $6,680 to benefit wounded U.S. soldiers, police officers and firefighters. On a similar note, she pointed out that the local U.S. Post Office complex was recently renamed after a 20-year-old Macomb Township soldier who died fighting in Afghanistan.
Looking ahead, the supervisor stated that she was looking forward to celebrating the Macomb Township Recreation Center’s 10th anniversary this summer and seeing a rematch of the old-time baseball game that was held at Macomb Corners Park last year.
Dunn ended her speech with one final question: “Did you know that Macomb Township had a miracle last year?” She went on to explain that Jim Gillis, the township’s broadcast media manager, was able to pull through after receiving a heart transplant in 2013. This was his first day back to work after several months in recovery.
“I am really excited about what has occurred and what the future will bring,” Dunn said. “I hope to see you soon in our restaurants, our churches, our businesses and our parks when you finally decide to make Macomb your home and decide that Macomb Township is where you want to live.”
Other public officials in the crowd — such as State Rep. Ken Goike, R-Ray Township — stepped up to the microphone after Dunn, praising township leaders for their strong leadership and sound financial management.
Goike also addressed the ongoing issue of poor road conditions in the area. The proliferation of potholes has caused him and others in Lansing to fight for additional road repair funding back home, he said. It has been an uphill battle, but it finally appears to be making progress.
“Macomb Township is the third-largest township in the state of Michigan — it’s a leader, just like Macomb County is a leader,” Goike said. “But we’re still the redheaded stepchild when it comes to getting funding. We’re working on that, though. … We’ve planted the seed to give more money to the local (municipalities) to use on their roads.”
County Commissioner Joe Sabatini, R-Macomb Township, added that the Macomb County Department of Roads will be investing about $15 million in the township’s infrastructure this year for projects such as paving 24 Mile Road between Romeo Plank and Foss roads, widening Hayes Road between 21 Mile and 23 Mile roads, and widening North Avenue between Hall Road and 21 Mile.
“That’s 35 percent of our total (county) road budget for 2014,” Sabatini said. “So I’m standing here today very excited about our investment in Macomb Township.”
Those in attendance seemed to appreciate the positive messages of the day. Township Trustee Roger Krzeminski was pleased that Dunn’s remarks focused so heavily on providing quality services for residents at a low cost.
“We’re looking at how we can serve people by giving them the best amenities possible,” he said. “The biggest gratification is that they know we’re watching our dollars. We have enough money in our coffers to pay for a lot of these road repairs — that’s why we are where we are right now. Janet hit a lot of that stuff right on the head. This was all very close to her heart, and she really did a great job of delivering her message in an unpretentious way.”
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, a Macomb Township resident, echoed Krzeminski’s sentiments. He noted that the township community very much reminds him of his childhood growing up in Warren, where he was able to enjoy reliable police and fire services, and a parks and recreation department that offered an array of family activities.
“What I like about Macomb Township is that you get a lot for your dollar here,” Hackel said. “They’re very efficient, and they do great job of managing their operations and their budget. That’s going to pay off for them in the near future when they have the funds available to tackle some of these big road projects. That strong sense of vision is part of the reason why I chose to live here, myself.”