Mayor’s State of the City message: A lot is happening in Clawson

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published March 18, 2015

 Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs delivers the annual State of the City address.

Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs delivers the annual State of the City address.


CLAWSON — The “little city with a big heart” has a lot going on, according to Mayor Penny Luebs, who gave the annual State of the City address last week.

“We are the place to be,” Luebs said. “If you think nothing happens in Clawson, think again.”

The breakfast gathering held March 11 at City Hall brought together local dignitaries, residents and members of the business community for the annual look back at the previous year.

Luebs said a highlight of 2014 included being named among the top eight safest cities in Michigan by the SafeWise organization.

“It’s also a community of friends and neighbors, evidenced by its low crime rates,” Luebs said.

It was a busy year for the Police Department. Along with fighting crime, the department initiated an officer recognition program, continued its bowl-a-thon for high school scholarships, collected backpacks and school supplies for Clawson children, challenged kids to an annual basketball game, and participated in bike safety programs.

Officer Scott Vierk received the 2014 Clawson Police Department Officer of the Year award and recognition from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The department made 30 arrests for impaired driving in 2014.

Clawson encompasses 2.5 square miles and about 12,000 residents.

The Fire Department reorganized in 2014, which included eliminating two part-time positions to create the full-time fire chief and marshal position. Richard Dylewski fills that role.

Fire runs were up last year with eight house fires, one garage fire, four apartment fires, two vehicle fires and seven rubbish fires. The department also had increases in smoke odor investigations and downed wire checks.

During the address, Luebs highlighted the Clawson business community.

“You know you’re in Clawson when you drive by the largest chicken on a rooftop, home to Faym-us Chicken,” she said.

Chamber of Commerce President Char Larson lauded the work of everyone at City Hall and throughout Clawson for contributing to the business community’s and chamber’s success. She attributed a lot of the business community’s success to all leaders being under one roof at City Hall.

“A one-stop shop,” Larson said. “It tells you that we can all work together and create a great environment for our businesses and the residents. It’s a one-stop shop, and with that, the collaboration has been wonderful.”

New initiatives in the business community include a mini-grant program for businesses, which Larson hopes to roll out in the next few months.

Another program supporting growth in the business community is the Clawson Business Resource Center at the Blair Memorial Library. The initiative was a partnership between the chamber, Downtown Development Authority and Oakland County.

Larson said that on Wednesdays, entrepreneurs can stop by and talk with experts.

“SCORE comes in once a month as well as Michigan Works, so it is a great opportunity,” she said.

Luebs announced that five new businesses are getting ready to debut in the city. She also announced the sale of the old Burger King building and plans to turn the location into an upscale bar and restaurant.

“Again, if you think nothing happens in Clawson, think again,” Luebs said.

Other 2014 city highlights included installing numerous fire hydrants throughout the city and hosting a Department of Public Works open house that offered residents disposal of hazardous materials and shredding services.

City Engineer Harry Drinkwine completed a hydraulic study of the water main system and developed a 20-year improvement plan to address system deficiencies.

Luebs said three pedestrian crossings with refuge islands and signals along 14 Mile Road in the downtown area are in the works through a partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation. She said funding was made available through an MDOT grant.

The mayor said future goals for the city include creating a database inventory of available properties, connecting bike paths to neighboring cities, increasing the recycling program along with adding recycling bins in the parks, bringing more content to the community’s cable channel, and changing older streetlights to LED bulbs.

Luebs said past and future success is possible through the city’s financial management, which includes the city’s AA- bond rating and balanced budget.

Residential initiatives highlighted during the event included the city announcement service and online payments for tax and water bills, parking tickets and recreation programs. Residents will see upgrades to parks and recreation beginning this spring following approval of a $3.8 million bond in 2014.

“Park improvements include replacing the track, artificial turf on the football field, new visitor bleachers, new lights, fencing, upgrading the softball and baseball fields along with the tot lot, the addition of a skate park, and renovation of (the) Grant Park parking lot,” Luebs said.

Residents demonstrated a strong showing at the Blair Memorial Library with a total of 669 attendees at 27 reading programs held in 2014 under its new leadership with Director Jenni Gannod.

“So, Clawson, again, if you think nothing happens in Clawson, think again,” Luebs said. “We have an exciting year coming up with the park improvements and the pedestrian crossings and working with each other to make life better for all of us.”