File photo by Patricia O'Blenes

Madison Heights cancels summer programming lineup

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 4, 2020


MADISON HEIGHTS — All city-run events and recreation programs are canceled in Madison Heights up through Labor Day (Sept. 7) as a safety precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.

The cancellation of the privately funded Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade is one such casualty that has already occurred.

Upcoming events that are now canceled include the Pre-Fourth of July Festival in the Park — one of the city’s most popular events, drawing thousands to Civic Center Park for live music, fireworks and more — as well as the city’s annual golf outing and summer camps.

“We canceled recreation and special events for the summer because the registration periods, planning and social distancing requirements make it not feasible to host these events this year,” said Melissa Marsh, the city manager of Madison Heights.

“It was a hard decision to make. However, after we had discussions with state and county health officials … we made this decision in the best interest of the entire community. I know our residents are disappointed, but these programs will return once we are able to be sure that the most vulnerable of our community are protected and that we can host programs safely.”

Officials had considered taking a wait-and-see approach, where the viability of events would be considered on a week-by-week basis. But ultimately, it was decided that canceling them all now would give residents more time to make alternate plans for the summer months.

“It’s unfortunate our summer events will have to be canceled out of safety concerns and the uncertainty of what the coming months will look like, but I’m optimistic that our fantastic city boards, volunteers and staff will come up with some creative programming to fill some of the gaps,” said Madison Heights City Councilman Mark Bliss. “This is an opportunity to try some new things and come up with virtual programming that can continue well after this crisis.”

Madison Heights City Councilman Robert Corbett said the cancellations are difficult but may continue to prove necessary for the foreseeable future. He cautioned that a more fiscally conservative approach is needed for the time being.

“I think that, like the other members of council, I was heartsick to see a number of the projects and programs for the late spring and summertime canceled, for what is an obvious good reason — we simply can’t risk the health and safety of our residents and their families,” Corbett said.

“Especially painful was the loss of the annual Memorial Day Parade. For many of our residents, it’s a solemn memorial — a tribute by our community to the brave men and women who died to preserve our freedom. It’s an event that spans the generations in Madison Heights. Parents who, years ago, marched with their high school band are now bringing their own children and lining the parade route to cheer. Obviously, we couldn’t take a chance (with people catching the virus), but that’s a loss that I think we all feel keenly.”

Corbett added that, while these cancellations create savings, he doesn’t believe that the money saved can be spent on anything extra in the short term.

“We’re going to have to wait and see what the new year brings in terms of revenues. … If the market dips going into next fiscal year and our revenues decline, combined with a possible high unemployment rate, we will be stretched to provide basic services to the community,” Corbett said. “Good sense dictates that we hold onto our money for now and see what the new year will bring.”