Taylor touts Sterling successes in city address

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 11, 2016

Mayor Michael Taylor’s message was optimistic when he delivered Sterling Heights’ first-ever State of the City address Sept. 30.

During the address, which took place at the Wyndham Garden Sterling Heights hotel, Taylor said he wanted to promote ways to improve transparency by explaining city challenges, successes and future plans.

Taylor said the city had to adapt and find its own solutions when revenue declined due to the recession several years ago. But he said property values have since recovered significantly, while commercial properties have gained new tenants and manufacturers have made new investments.

“And today I’m proud to say that not only did we survive that economic downturn — not only did we survive that last decade — Sterling Heights has emerged stronger and healthier, and Sterling Heights is leading Michigan’s historic comeback,” he said.

Taylor noted several possible variables in the city’s future, including smart infrastructure, autonomous vehicle advances and changing demographics. To direct a course for the city’s future, city stakeholders created Visioning 2030 goals in 2014.

In mentioning the city’s attributes, Taylor discussed public safety and highlighted FBI statistics that show Sterling Heights’ reported crimes to be lower than national averages and lower than in Michigan’s other big cities.

Taylor praised police for their efforts to save lives amid an American opiate epidemic, and he vowed to work with other communities to do more to combat the crisis. He also praised the Fire Department, saying it is among the top-rated in the state. He said it ranked at 2 out of 10 on its International Organization for Standardization rating, and he added that no Michigan fire departments gained the best possible score of 1.

The reconstruction of Van Dyke Avenue was another theme that Taylor touched on, adding that it took about 18 months and $40 million in investments for it to become “what a commercial corridor should look like,” with landscaping, lighting and new mile markers.

Taylor also praised the investments that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to make by producing the Ram 1500 at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, adding that the automaker has made the “single largest corporate investment in the city’s history.”

He also commented on the new, developing Sterling Enterprise Park at the site of the former Sunnybrook golf course. And he described the goal of branding an industrial corridor — bounded by Mound Road, Van Dyke, 14 Mile and near M-59 — as the Sterling Innovation District.

“Van Dyke is peppered with these small shops, local bars and some of the world’s largest corporations, like FCA,” he said. “Couple that corridor with our industrial corridor and the commercial corridor down Hall Road, and you would be hard pressed to find a more important economic, industrial and commercial corridor in the entire state of Michigan.”

In terms of residential news, Taylor said the Moceri family, from Moceri Cos., plans to build high-class housing units in the city after purchasing Maple Lane Golf Club.

“And my prediction is that when this development is completed, if not before, Sterling Heights will overtake Warren as the third-largest city in the state of Michigan,” he said.

In terms of destination spots, Taylor talked about the turnout at the Dodge Park Farmers Market, as well as the extended Music in the Park summer concert series. He said a $4.5 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant for restoring part of the Clinton River could make the area a canoeing, kayaking and fishing destination.

He also said the Recreating Recreation initiative — which includes a proposal for a new 122,000-square-foot recreation center — could be transformative if voters approve a 20-year, 0.97-mill levy proposal Nov. 8.

Overall, Taylor stressed the correlation between great cities and defined identities.

“Our cities say a lot about ourselves,” he said. “The cities are the public spaces that we’re born, where we grow up, where we go to school, where we choose to live and start a family or a business, and the cities are our home.

“Your city is more a part of your identity probably than you ever really considered.”

Before Taylor spoke, Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Melanie Davis said the chamber supports the Recreating Recreation plan, as well as efforts to envision the future of the Lakeside Mall area.

“We want to make sure that we’re reinvesting in the community to make sure that it stays vibrant for residents and businesses alike for years to come,” she said.

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.