Harper Woods Schools officials said they hope to bring back more programs in 2021 while working within safety guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harper Woods Schools officials said they hope to bring back more programs in 2021 while working within safety guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Harper Woods leaders share ‘New Year’s resolutions’

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published January 22, 2021

 Harper Woods Acting City Manager John Szymanski said one of the city’s goals in 2021 is to make improvements to city resources, such as adding drinking fountains and resurfacing the basketball courts at Johnston Park, pictured, and Salter Park.

Harper Woods Acting City Manager John Szymanski said one of the city’s goals in 2021 is to make improvements to city resources, such as adding drinking fountains and resurfacing the basketball courts at Johnston Park, pictured, and Salter Park.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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HARPER WOODS — Harper Woods city officials and leaders are looking toward the future and are sharing what their New Year’s resolutions are for 2021 in regard to the Harper Woods community.

John Szymanski, the acting city manager and finance manager of Harper Woods, said there are several projects the city wants to focus on in 2021, including continued economic development of Eastland Center, reimplementing outdoor programs as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and continued steps to make the city more diverse.

“We want to install traffic calming devices and speed bumps throughout the city, and especially near all the city schools and Woodside Street,” he wrote in an email. “(We also want to) repurpose the currently empty Poupard Elementary School building and the surrounding area with new upscale housing, community center amenities and a senior citizen facility. We’d like to resurface the basketball courts at Johnston and Salter Parks and install water fountains at both, develop a YouTube channel for viewing City Council meetings, finish the installation of 977 new water meters — a total of 4,723 have already been installed — install a walking path at Salter Park and improve security at City Hall, the court and the library.”

He also mentioned the Beaconsfield Street paving project, which is 80% federally funded, that will begin phase one in 2021 and repave from Kingsville Street to Woodland Street. Phase two will take place in 2022 and go from Woodland Street to Vernier Road.

Harper Woods Schools Superintendent Steven McGhee said the No. 1 goal for schools is recovering from the difficulties put forth by the COVID-19 virus.

“We want to maintain our state approved return to learn plan, by ensuring all stakeholders are secure, healthy and safe,” he wrote in an email. “Our focus will be to regain the skill set of our students through remedial methods and improve outcomes of our state exam in the spring. (We also want a) continued focus on social and emotional support for our students, staff and partners.”

McGhee added that they want to complete phase two of the work on the district’s College and Career Institute, which was opened in 2020, and institute more trades programs such as a construction program.

Diane Fisher, the head of Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods, said she wants the school to remain flexible in the face of COVID-19 and remain dedicated to the “mind, heart and health of students.”

“If COVID-19 is mitigated quickly, we want to focus on getting our students back and provide them the options and opportunities that had to be abandoned as of March 2020,” Fisher said in an email. “The restrictions of COVID-19 have made so many of us revisit our common practices and lean on technology to fill the void of human interaction. In many ways, technology has allowed the CPA family to connect with parents and students in a new way. As we look into the future, I would hope to continue to explore and adapt our methods of communication with our stakeholders. Learning how to integrate technology with fidelity to connect school and home is a goal we would like to explore.”

Kristen Valyi-Hax, the director of the Harper Woods Public Library, said she hopes to increase the library’s in-person programs to bring people back into the library.

“Our goals are to continue to offer services such as curbside pickup and take and make crafts while looking for new opportunities to serve our residents,” she said. “I’d like to see more neighborhood participation in community functions. … 2020 was such a draining, exhausting year. I’m hoping to re-energize the library this year.”

Director of Public Safety Vincent Smith did not wish to comment directly for the story, but said his answers were encompassed in Szymanski’s responses.

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