Poloni to return to Grosse Pointe Shores as city manager

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 27, 2020

 Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni — seen here with Park Lt. James Bostick at a 2019 Park City Council meeting — has been named the new city manager in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni — seen here with Park Lt. James Bostick at a 2019 Park City Council meeting — has been named the new city manager in Grosse Pointe Shores.

File photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Who says you can’t go home again?

Nine years after retiring as Grosse Pointe Shores’ public safety director, Stephen Poloni is returning to the Shores in a different role — as city manager.

The Shores City Council voted unanimously in favor of naming Poloni as the new city manager during a Zoom meeting Oct. 20. Poloni had worked in the Shores for nearly 25 years when he retired as the public safety director in November 2011.

“I just want to thank the mayor and council for this opportunity,” Poloni said during the meeting. “It’s a coming home of sorts (for me).”

Mayor Ted Kedzierski agreed.

“We’re so pleased,” Kedzierski said. “You’re home again in Grosse Pointe Shores. It just seems right.”

Poloni, who turns 62 Nov. 27, began working in the Shores Public Safety Department in January 1987. Prior to that, he spent several years working for the city of River Rouge as an administrator in the Clerk’s Office, a member of the Department of Public Works and a firefighter. Over the course of his career, he won numerous awards and worked his way up the Shores ranks, eventually being named in February 2004 to succeed retiring Public Safety Director Gary Mitchell.

After retiring from the Shores, Poloni became the public safety director in Grosse Pointe City. When Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Chief David Hiller retired in January 2016, Poloni took over the reins in that city, as well, meaning he has been running two public safety departments for the last five years.

Poloni said he wasn’t looking for a new job when Shores officials reached out to him about becoming city manager. It’s not the first time he’s been offered this position: Poloni said Shores officials asked him to become the manager in 2011, as well, but he declined because he had already made a commitment to Grosse Pointe City.

“I’ve been doing public safety for 37 years,” Poloni said. “I’ve worked with many good managers. It seemed like a good way to end my career. I love Grosse Pointe Shores. I always have.”

He said he still knows many of the employees and residents in the Shores and sees them regularly.

Kedzierski said Poloni is slated to start his new position in the Shores around Jan. 20. The mayor was among the officials to congratulate Poloni.

“We’re all looking forward to working with you,” City Councilman Matthew Seely told Poloni.

Seely said Poloni has done “a great job” in Grosse Pointe City.

“I was very pleased when I met him that he described himself as a budget hawk,” Seely said. “I’m looking forward to a new team spirit.”

Although Poloni said it will be up to the officials in the Park and City to select new public safety directors, he has been grooming potential directors to make the transition a smooth one. In the City, former Lt. John Alcorn is now serving as the deputy director, while in the Park, Poloni said Lt. James Bostick has taken management courses to prepare him for a greater leadership role.

“Grosse Pointe City and Grosse Pointe Park are both in excellent shape,” Poloni said. “I’m proud of my accomplishments there.”

In August, the City opened a new public safety facility at the corner of St. Clair and Mack avenues.

Poloni will be taking over in the Shores at a tumultuous time in the city’s history. The city has been without a permanent manager since the forced retirement of Mark Wollenweber in October 2019 — Building Inspector Tom Krolcyk has been serving as the interim city manager. Elected officials have been sharply criticized by Shores retirees and even some residents over changes in May to retiree health care. Retirees say the changes — which have increased their costs — are in violation of contractual agreements. Veteran city employees, including Department of Public Works Director Brett Smith and Finance Director/Treasurer Rhonda Ricketts, have left in recent months in protest.

Poloni is one of the retirees impacted by the changes to retiree health care. He didn’t want to specifically comment on if, or how, he might address the retiree health care issue — which was a decision made by the council, not administrators — but he hopes to have a positive impact on a city that has meant so much to him during his career.

“I’m excited to be there to make any kind of contribution I can, to try to help this mayor and council to make this the best government I can,” Poloni said.