Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens speaks to the audience during the State of the City address March 2 at the Lutheran Fraternities of America No. 57.

Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens speaks to the audience during the State of the City address March 2 at the Lutheran Fraternities of America No. 57.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Chamber hosts Eastpointe’s State of the City address

By: Maria Allard | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 3, 2023

 Eastpointe Community Schools Superintendent Christina Gibson talks about the district’s strategic plan that the school board approved in January.

Eastpointe Community Schools Superintendent Christina Gibson talks about the district’s strategic plan that the school board approved in January.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 During her speech, Judge Kathleen Galen acknowledges the dedication of her staff at Eastpointe’s 38th District Court.

During her speech, Judge Kathleen Galen acknowledges the dedication of her staff at Eastpointe’s 38th District Court.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

EASTPOINTE — Residents, local dignitaries and business owners gathered March 2 at the Lutheran Fraternities of America No. 57 for Eastpointe’s annual State of the City address.

The luncheon gave Mayor Monique Owens the opportunity to provide highlights of the city’s progress over the past year. Eastpointe Community Schools Superintendent Christina Gibson and 38th District Court Judge Kathleen Galen also gave presentations.

The Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce organized the event. The cost to attend was $25 per chamber member and $30 per nonmember.


City of Eastpointe
Owens focused on three areas: community development, infrastructure investments and financial outlook.

Property for a new police and district court building was purchased next to the current building. According to Owens’ speech, the new building will provide enough space for the current operations of the court and Police Department.

“The design phase is next,” she said.

A zoning ordinance amendment is currently under review with the Planning Commission. A steering committee has been formed to lead efforts to modernize the ordinances to be more business friendly.

While at the podium, Owens addressed the partnerships the city has formed, including with the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, Eastpointe Cops Care, and the Boys & Girls Club. In addition, Macomb County Habitat for Humanity renovated 16 homes in the city during the past two years.

The Community Housing Network is another partnership that developed. On May 20, 2022, the CHN held a ribbon-cutting to officially announce the opening of the Erin Park subdivision near Stephens Drive and Gratiot Avenue.

To date, the Eastpointe City Council has approved an ordinance to permit three medical marijuana provisioning centers.

“There are distance requirements from homes, schools, public parks, existing child care centers and places of worship or religious assembly,” Owens’ PowerPoint presentation stated. “The city will receive a distribution from the State of Michigan from Marijuana Taxation. Estimated to be around $5,000 per facility.”

The distribution will vary per year.

Infrastructure investments include the Modern Nine Main Street Project. Nine Mile Road from Beechwood Avenue, where the Eastpointe city limit begins, all the way to Interstate 94 is undergoing a complete reconstruction.

Other projects include the reconstruction of Mott Avenue from Kelly Road to Beaconsfield Avenue. Street resurfacing is planned for Sprenger Avenue from Boulder Avenue to Shakespeare Avenue; Ego Avenue from Shakespeare to Cushing Avenue; and Juliana Avenue from Virginia Avenue to Shakespeare.

There will be a budget presentation at the April 4 City Council meeting. Budget workshops are planned for May 2023 with specific dates to be announced. Officials are in the process of identifying grant opportunities for business support, park improvements and walkability paths.


Eastpointe Community Schools
During her presentation, Gibson shared information about the district’s strategic plan that the school board passed in January 2023. The plan includes the district’s mission, vision and motto, along with goals and strategies. The strategic plan is available on the district’s website at eastpointeschools.org.

The strategic plan focuses on student growth and achievement; learning environments and support; a working environment and high-quality staff; family and community partnerships; and resources for finances, facilities and technology.

The plan also includes core values and a portrait of a graduate, adult and system. The graduate portrait, for example, includes the knowledge, skills, character and mindset needed to thrive in life.

The core values are designed to guide actions and behaviors and include safety and well-being; healthy and trusting relationships; diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural competence; and connected families and collaborative community.

“This is our roadmap to success as a public school district and as a community who supports the public school district,” Gibson said. “We have lost trust in our public education system. Your neighbors will display signs that their child goes to Lakeview or South Lake or another district. This divides us as a community. The school district recognizes we need to build trust back with all of you. Trust is built by reliability and making deliverable promises and following through with them.

“Our students’ success is this community’s success. How we provide and get graduates helps to define a road map for your future employees,” Gibson said. “We’re interested in making homeowners and citizens.”

She mentioned that the district has an Early Childhood Center.

“It started out with two classrooms and now has over 282 students,” Gibson said. “By offering early childhood education, I have kindergarten students who are coming in not just ready for kindergarten, but ready at midyear for kindergarten learning because we are building a strong foundation.”

Using a QR code, Gibson asked the crowd what they would like to see more of in the district. They responded with answers of job training, skilled trades, flexibility and agility, diversity, community partnerships, and making sure students learn how to become adults.

“We want to start getting better partnerships with our civic organizations, with you and your businesses,” Gibson said. “Eastpointe Community Schools is paying for people to go back to school to get their teaching certificates. We have paraprofessionals that have been committed to this community serving our children and we are now funding their college education to achieve a bachelor’s degree and get teaching certificates. If you know of anyone to be part of this great team, we want them.”


38th District Court
“It’s a one-judge court. I am the current judge from 2021 through 2027. We are the busiest single-judge court in the state of Michigan,” Galen said. “In 2021, there were 25,034 cases that were filed in the court. Our city has a population of 34,318. Last year, the numbers were 24,252 cases that we processed. I’m proud to report we have good people in place at the court. We have good working relationships with the city and the Police Department, which has been a real godsend.

“Because our numbers are so high, we may be eligible for a second judgeship in our city. We are in the works of trying to put a plan together for a new courthouse and hopefully a new judge,” Galen said. “The city has purchased the property to the east of the court. The goal is to have a justice center with a modern Police Department and courtrooms for two judges and two magistrates.”

The court is also moving forward in terms of its technology.

“We are on board to get started on where the state is going to come in and help us to electronically file civil cases,” Galen said.

Court staff also are using the CloudGavel electronic warrant solution.

“Traditionally, if you needed a warrant signed … if there was a major crime in the middle of the night, the police would go to the Police Department to type it out. They’d have to go to the judge’s house, wake the judge up, go back to the Police Department and process it,” Galen said. “This CloudGavel allows everything to be done electronically in the middle of the night.”


Resident reaction
Resident Craig Wodecki attended the luncheon with his wife, Kathy DiCenzo. He’d like for the information from the event to get out to the residents somehow.

“I wish they would televise or make the meeting available to the public,” Wodecki said. “The public needs to hear what’s coming from the leaders’ mouths and not the gossip in the neighborhood.”

Married couple Anita and Darius Blackmon were among the residents at the State of the City address. Anita, who owns the coaching and consulting services business Purpose To Purpose, heard about the State of the City through the chamber.

“It was nice and very informative,” Anita said. “I know there are a lot of changes going on in the community. I wanted to see and hear what was taking place. I know about the Nine Mile Road project. I wanted to see what plans are coming forth.”

Darius, a retired federal police officer, is concerned about break-ins in the city.

“It’s a safety concern. Let’s keep our eye on that,” he said. “I see a lot of things that need to be watched.”

But he also sees the positive side of the city and appreciates the family town aspect in Eastpointe.

“It’s a very interesting community because it’s growing,” Darius said.