City Council votes to name City Hall after mayor

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 13, 2019

 Robert Novitke

Robert Novitke

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Robert Novitke has served on the Grosse Pointe Woods City Council for 42 years.

He was first elected by the public in 1977 as a councilman and was appointed mayor in 1990. He ran for mayor in 1991 and has been re-elected in every election ever since. The mayoral election takes place every four years.

With all the years Novitke has dedicated to Grosse Pointe Woods, current members of the City Council decided it was time to honor him in a special way.

At the Dec. 17 City Council meeting, the council members voted 5-0 for the City Hall complex at 20025 Mack Plaza Drive to be renamed to “The City of Grosse Pointe Woods Robert E. Novitke Municipal Center.”

Novitke and Councilman Michael Koester were absent and therefore not present for the vote. The complex includes the community center, City Hall and the Department of Public Safety. The name change came as a surprise to Novitke.

“It was obviously unexpected and humbling,” he said.

According to City Council member Todd McConaghy, who made the motion for the name change, which City Council member George McMullen Jr. seconded, the name change was something the entire council wanted to do. Mayor Pro Tem and City Council member Arthur Bryant said the council also asked around to see what other people thought of the idea.

“No one has done more for the city of Grosse Pointe Woods for the last 40 years than the honorable Robert E. Novitke,” McConaghy said. “He has been involved in every major development since that time, and the council wanted to make sure he was duly recognized. He’s just been an incredible force.

“He’s very humble about it,” McConaghy said. “He never would have asked for it. He deserves it.”

Bryant said Novitke has been the longest-serving mayor in Grosse Pointe Woods. Bryant met Novitke 40 years ago when he first moved to the city.

“I really got to know him in 2005 when I got on the (Grosse Pointe Woods) Beautification Commission,” said Bryant, who was first elected to the council in 2007. “He’s a wonderful guy. He has a great family. He’s very personable. He always wants to help people. He’s a lawyer by profession, and that helps the city. He’s really thorough when checking things out. He’s so diligent and keeps us on track.”

Bryant also indicated that Novitke has encouraged community involvement and has brought together the City Council.

“He has been instrumental in getting the council to work together and the way they function,” he said.

With regard to Michigan’s economic downturn in 2008, Bryant said of Novitke, “He kept us financially sound through the financial crisis. He just worked through a lot of things to save money and improve things.”

“Bob was absolutely instrumental in helping us make the cuts we wanted to make and help us steer the ship,” McConaghy said.

In addition to being mayor, Novitke serves as a member on several committees in the city, including the Ad Hoc Public Safety Committee, the Compensation and Evaluation Committee, the Construction Committee and the Finance Committee, among others. He also chairs the Community Events Committee and the Pension Board and Retiree Health Care Trust Fund Committee. The mayor served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1964 to 1968 with time spent in Vietnam.

The renaming of City Hall to The City of Grosse Pointe Woods Robert E. Novitke Municipal Center will be implemented sometime in the spring along with a rededication of the building. A committee will assemble to make those plans.

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