St. Clair Shored city officials look ahead in 2019

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 4, 2019

ST. CLAIR SHORES — City officials say 2019 may be a year of change in St. Clair Shores.

On the agenda this year are the renewals of two millages, said City Manager Michael Smith. The city can collect the streets millage, worth $1,795,000, and the police and fire operating millage, worth $7,279,000, in July 2019, but in order to collect the millages again in 2020, “we’ve got to get the renewals this year,” he said.

All non-sworn employees, such as those working at City Hall, the library and the Department of Public Works, have contracts that are up for renewal in 2019, and three City Council members — Peter Accica, Ronald Frederick and Chris Vitale — and the mayor are up for re-election this fall.

“We’ll have a better feel for that come filing deadline,” Smith said.

In addition, Smith himself will be leaving in August. He announced his impending retirement in December.

“Every year has different challenges. I think this year’s big challenge and task will be the replacement of Mike Smith,” Mayor Kip Walby said.

Smith said that a request for proposals will be put forth in January for a firm to conduct the search for his replacement, “to find out exactly who’s out there and what’s out there.”

Although sometimes cities conduct searches and then hire internal candidates, Smith said that a search shows transparency and that the best person is chosen for the job.

Along the Nautical Mile, Smith said that the bathhouse project at Blossom Heath Park should commence this year with help from the Tax Increment Finance Authority, or TIFA, and two new pavilions are already under construction at Veterans Memorial Park thanks to a commitment by Harry Thompson, the owner of Maloof Jewelry and Gifts.

“The footings and pads are already poured for that. We were lucky with the weather,” Smith said.

Walby said he is excited to receive bids for the bathhouse project at Blossom Heath, because while there have been improvements made to the park, the city receives a lot of complaints about the condition of the bathhouse.

“(Blossom Heath) is getting more use than it has in the last couple years,” he said, due to the farmers market and food truck rally. “We got a lot of positive response for moving the fences and the trees.”

The city is also working with TIFA on a bike share program that should stretch from the Nautical Mile down to the area of Nine Mile Road and Greater Mack Avenue, and up to 10 Mile Road where Baffin Brewing Co. is located. Smith said that if the vendor that was being considered is chosen, the bikes would be on a dockless system like the scooters in downtown Detroit.

The biggest use for the bikes, he said, may be in the marinas, where boaters can “scoot around in the marinas and run up to the store without taking a car.”

In addition, Smith said that the ball diamonds at the former St. Gertrude Church, behind Lakeshore Senior Living, 28801 Jefferson Ave., will be reopening in 2019 for use.

“There’s always lots of fun stuff,” he said.

Walby said that they hope to be able to put a memorial together for K-9 Axe, who died in November, in the spring. The city also hopes to be able to place the piece of land it now owns on Jefferson Avenue, just south of Veterans Memorial Park, up for sale this year.

“We’ll see some plans about development there,” he said. “Those are some of the big highlights.”