New Orchard Lake City Council members focus on vacant buildings, televised meetings

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 16, 2023






ORCHARD LAKE — There will be two new voices on Orchard Lake’s City Council as Kelly Mandel and David Steuer each won their respective election bids in the general election Nov. 7.

Mandel and Steuer each finished with 240 votes to win the two open City Council seats. At press time, it was not known when they were set to be sworn in.

Although Steuer said that Orchard Lake is a small community and there aren’t too many controversial issues, he has gotten a sense for some of the concerns that residents have.

He said that traffic is one of the larger ones, specifically in regard to road conditions.

“That’s not necessarily resolvable by the City Council, but the City Council can work with the Road Commission of Oakland County and others to see what can be done to help alleviate that (and) make sure that the roads are safe and convenient for everyone,” Steuer said.

Vacant businesses on Orchard Lake Road have also gotten the attention of some residents.

The former sites of Walgreens, Starbucks and the Village Place Restaurant have yet to be occupied.

“I think a lot (of) people are interested in getting these businesses up and running on Orchard Lake Road,” Mandel said. “I hope I can add some positive momentum in that process. … There’s several right there in that area, and that has come up. A number of people have asked about that.”

Those vacant businesses have already been on the radar of Orchard Lake city officials, and even before being elected, Mandel was following along with some of the progress.

“I know it’s been talked about in our meetings,” she said. “I’ve been following it, and I think it’s still in the process.”

Steuer has been serving on Orchard Lake’s Planning Commission, and he is also aware that vacant businesses have been on the minds of residents.

“Some of the existing buildings that have been vacant, the commercial buildings, and what can be done to make sure that those buildings get filled with quality tenants that will be there for the long-term, that will serve the community well,” he said.

In West Bloomfield, Board of Trustee meetings are broadcast on Civic Center TV, as are City Council meetings in Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake.

Orchard Lake City Council meetings are not currently televised, and that is something that Mandel would like to change.

“It’s important to me, and I’ve heard from other people as well that are behind me saying the same thing,” she said. “I think it makes it more accessible for people, so that they don’t have to necessarily come out of their house. … I don’t want people to have more barriers.”

Mandel said that it was her first time running for “anything,” and in her new position she wants to be a bridge for people and help them feel more connected.

“I can’t wait to help people feel more engaged and see what I can contribute,” she said.

Although Steuer has yet to begin serving on Orchard Lake’s City Council, he is going in with a positive perception of those he is set to work alongside.

“I haven’t had a lot of interaction with the council yet,” he said. “What it appears to me is there’s a quality group of people that is very capable and experienced in getting things done that need to be done. … I think it’s an involved community. I don’t see impediments to getting important things done.”