Boards and commissions lay out plans for Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published March 4, 2024

 A selection of artwork by local talent is exhibited for sale at Madison Heights City Hall and the library next door, part of an initiative by the Arts Board to bring more art into the city. Each of the quality-of-life boards in the city have submitted their work plans for the year, outlining their goals.

A selection of artwork by local talent is exhibited for sale at Madison Heights City Hall and the library next door, part of an initiative by the Arts Board to bring more art into the city. Each of the quality-of-life boards in the city have submitted their work plans for the year, outlining their goals.

Photos by Patricia O’Blenes

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


MADISON HEIGHTS — Last year, when the Madison Heights Arts Board told the City Council its plans for the year, it included a proposal to secure a bandshell for Civic Center Park in five years. As a result, city staff got involved and grants were found.

Now, the bandshell will be ready this year, opening either at the Festival in the Park in late June, or at Trail Tunes in late August. Once available, it will be used for musical performances, theater plays and more.

Mark Bliss, the mayor pro tem of Madison Heights, said it’s a powerful example of why the city likes to have its boards and commissions share their work plans each year. The boards in question are the Arts Board, Historical Commission, Crime Commission, Library Board, Human Relations and Equity Commission, and Environmental Citizens Committee.

The other boards in town, such as the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals, already communicate frequently with the city since they are deeply involved in day-to-day operations. That’s why the council likes to hear from the less represented quality-of-life boards.

“Staff and council can allocate resources accordingly, and the things our volunteers care about and are championing on these boards turn into things like grants we get at City Hall. Without that level of awareness and communication, we wouldn’t have things like the bandshell,” Bliss said.

Bliss is the council rep for both the Arts Board and Historical Commission. He said this year, along with the installation of the bandshell, the Arts Board will continue to expand events such as the Arts Gala fundraiser, the Trail of Treats — previously called the Pumpkin Walk — and Trail Tunes. New programming is also being planned, including outreach to local theater groups in the hopes of lining up regular performances at the bandshell next year.

As for the Historical Commission, its plans include digitizing physical relics such as old newspaper clippings and video cassettes — part of an effort to create an online archive detailing the city’s past — and to conduct video interviews with longtime residents, business owners and officials.

The Historical Commission also plans to honor more community members by renaming public spaces after them, and to relaunch the Heritage Rooms — the city’s historical museum in the lower level of City Hall. New programming is also in the works, such as a presentation on the history of music in Madison Heights — specifically, how there once were dueling manufacturers in town that made cassette tapes and eight-track tapes.

“We want to draw in residents with our programs and museum, so that we can educate them on the history of the city,” Bliss said.

Sean Fleming is the council rep for the Crime Commission. He said the group plans to foster community engagement with guest speakers on topics such as human trafficking, and events such as the Bike Rodeo at the Madison Heights Police Department in June, and a K-9 unit demonstration sometime in the fall.

“We also want to educate the community on how we’ll utilize the new co-responder program we’re going to roll out later this year, and how it can help people with mental health calls,” he said. “We’re also talking to the districts about resource officers. The Lamphere Schools have one now, and we’re waiting on the Madison Schools to make a decision there. We want to make sure parents understand the benefits of those officers. It’s not just about security — it’s also about having someone that the kids can go to for help, someone to mentor and role model for them.”

Fleming also said the Crime Commission is interested in working with the Madison Heights Community Coalition to raise awareness for keeping kids safe online.

The council representative for the Library Board is David Soltis. He said the board is planning a series of guest speakers at the library, as well as expanded programming for tweens — including more activities for students in grades 5-8 — and more educational events for the community in general.

“The city is really proud of our library increasing services with the renovated library structure, and the kids’ playroom is a great addition,” Soltis said. “I appreciate all of the hard work that they’ve been doing. We have a first-rate library among surrounding vicinities.”

Quinn Wright, the council rep for the Human Relations and Equity Commission, described a wide range of plans. He said the HREC wants to support Juneteenth celebrations in the community, and to share resources, stories and perspectives that highlight the Black experience. The HREC will help promote Black-owned businesses, and also invite people to get educated and involved in the fight against racism and social injustice.

A book club, Novels & Neighbors, will foster discussions each month about stories that share different viewpoints. The HREC is also planning Motorama & Smoke — a two-in-one car show and barbecue cook-off — as well as a community cookbook featuring recipes from residents, the idea being that food connects people.

“I’m really excited for the addition of a car show and also the community cookbook,” he said in an email. “Both will be great additions for creating community and inclusion.”

Emily Rohrbach, the council rep for the Environmental Citizens Committee, said that the ECC will continue efforts such as tree plantings and native gardens, and that the board is also working on a grant-funded environmental sustainability plan that may include a “Green Leaders” program and other educational initiatives.

The ECC will also continue to hold native plant sales that help fund native garden grants for residents and organizations in the city. A native garden expert will help find locations in the city where those gardens can benefit more people. She said the city has already planted nearly 600 new trees in recent years, and the ECC wants to plant even more.

“Environmental sustainability is not a singular achievement, but an ongoing process,” Rohrbach said in an email. “We can always find ways to improve and engage the city, residents and business community.”