City officials detail wishes, expectations for 2018

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 8, 2018

File photo

Sterling Heights officials are setting their sights high regarding their plans, expectations and hopes for the city as it enters its 50th year in 2018.

Mayor Michael Taylor predicted that 2018 will be an exciting and transformational year because it will be the city’s 50th anniversary year, which brings unique commemoration events. In addition, more improvements from the city’s Recreating Recreation initiative will either progress or be completed, such as renovations to Dodge Park and the groundbreaking for a new community center.

“The biggest thing that’s going to happen — it’s the biggest splash, no pun intended — is the splash pad coming this summer,” he said.

Taylor said it will also be the first full year that the Fire Department runs the city’s advanced life support transport services, which started in November.

Overall, the mayor compared the new year to the city’s latest piece of sculptural artwork outside City Hall — a seedling known as “The Seed.”

“What I talked about at my last State of the City (address) was investing in the city and investing in new amenities, investing in new technologies, investing in our infrastructure ... and the progress that we’re making as a city because of it,” Taylor said.

“2018, like the sculpture at Dodge Park, you’re going to see sprouting out from the ground all of this progress. … I think it’s going to be looked back on as one of the most transformative years in the city’s entire history. What a great way to ring in our 50th anniversary.”

Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois also focused his thoughts on how the recreation-related construction and enhancements will affect this year. He expects to be busy with improving local parks and the city’s flagship park, Dodge Park.

While Dodge Park is currently closed to the public, officials expect it to reopen by the end of June in time for a 50th anniversary celebration, which will be timed with the start of the farmers market season and the Music in the Park summer concert series.

“We will have a mini soccer field, which will be for pickup soccer,” Langlois said. “We will have an additional sand volleyball court in the park.”

Other upcoming Dodge Park amenities include a fifth park pavilion, an additional restroom building and a special farmers market pavilion that will become a refrigerated ice rink in the winter, he added.

Meanwhile, Langlois said, city officials will be excited to continue their recreational programming in 2018, and he looks forward to more normalcy once Dodge Park construction is over.

“Bringing our special events back to Dodge Park is very exciting, instead of having it at our temporary location at City Hall,” he said. “(And) we’ll be starting construction on our future home of the new community center.”

Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski said he looks forward to continuing to keep Sterling Heights’ status as one of the safest large cities in Michigan.

He said he hopes to see the new Community Outreach and Engagement program, which assigns one liaison officer each to six city districts, get more involved with community groups and schools.

He talked about recent success last fall at bringing the CORE officers to the Chaldean Community Foundation and discussing crime and traffic concerns with the local Arabic-speaking population via an interpreter.

“Being able to have that direct contact and having a translator really helped break down some walls for us,” Dwojakowski said. “In Sterling Heights we have a large Chaldean population, and I want to make sure that their needs are being addressed.”

Dwojakowski said he couldn’t discuss many details about the investigations involving three homicides that took place over a two-week period at the end of 2017.

“Obviously, the investigations are still all open,” he said. “We always have available state resources and federal resources, and we can utilize those at any time.”

According to an email from Community Relations Director Bridget Kozlowski, City Manager Mark Vanderpool has a list of items that he is looking toward in 2018.

That list includes securing funds for infrastructure work, making progress on a sustainability plan for the Lakeside Mall area and seeing further economic development in the North Van Dyke River District and at Sterling Enterprise Park. The list also includes seeking progress on reforestation and finding ways to utilize the Clinton River.

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