Upcoming town hall to discuss quality of life in Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 29, 2019

MADISON HEIGHTS — Two members of the Madison Heights City Council will be hosting a special town hall on the topic of quality-of-life offerings in the city. The town hall is also scheduled for a Sunday afternoon, which organizers hope will make it easier for families to attend.

The town hall is set for 2-4 p.m. Dec. 8 inside the Madison Heights Public Library, 240 W. 13 Mile Road, right next to City Hall.

Mark Bliss and Emily Rohrbach are the two City Council members running the event. They want to know what residents wish to see added or changed in the city to make it a more fulfilling place to live. Resident input will also factor into the City Council’s five-year strategic planning process, as well as the update to the citywide master plan, which is currently underway. The event will also include a storytime and craft for the kids.

“Since most meetings of this kind are geared toward adults, oftentimes parents of young children are unable to attend without fear of causing a disruption,” Rohrbach said. “We’ve structured our town hall so that the very people who most often utilize our parks, green spaces and library — children and families — are encouraged to participate in the conversation and planning process.”    

The event will also discuss the new Sunday hours at the library.

“I love them,” Bliss said of the new Sunday hours. “I work during the week, so weekend hours are the prime time for me to be able to take my children to the library. I’d imagine many others are in the same boat and would love to drop in and even attend library programs on Sunday.”

Bliss and Rohrbach serve on a number of boards related to quality of life. Bliss serves on the Arts and Culture Advisory Board, Library Advisory Board and Friends of Madison Heights Youth, and Rohrbach serves on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Environmental Citizens Committee and Multicultural Relations Advisory Board.

They said they’re eager to hear what the residents want to see.

“We want to hear about what types of structures and playscapes people want in our parks; what new things they’d like to see in our library; if they want any new park additions like splash pads or pavilions; what kind of programs they want to see in arts, recreation and our library; and how they’d like to see us enhance and expand our green space,” Bliss said.

“I’d like to hear from folks that don’t currently feel heard,” said Rohrbach. “For instance, I’d like to hear from people who live in the south end of the city to tell us what they would like to see in their parks. (Do they want to see) playscapes, exercise stations, benches, walking paths, pavilions, basketball hoops, bathrooms? What would make your Madison Heights parks experience better?

“And for the library, what kind of programming do you want?” Rohrbach continued. “What days and times? For what age groups? What kind of improvements do you want to see at the library? Updated books? Seating? Computer programs? And for general quality-of-life issues, when you drive around the city, what do you wish you would see? Bus stop benches? More public art?”

Bliss said the town hall will be about brainstorming new ideas as well as listening to concerns.

“I’m hoping to not just get some feedback, but also some new ideas that we can inject into those big strategic processes,” Bliss said, noting that the ideas suggested may be incorporated into the city’s short-term and long-term goals.

“Brainstorming and bouncing ideas off another human is important for the creative process,” agreed Rohrbach. “This town hall will give folks that opportunity: to come together, take ownership of the growth of our city, and the long-term sustainability of improvement and success.”

One quality-of-life initiative that is currently being developed by city staff is a proposal by Bliss to let residents rent out parks and city buildings that were previously unavailable. Under this program, families could rent out places such as the shelter building by the sled hill at Civic Center Park for the purposes of birthday parties and other gatherings.

“When brainstorming the idea with city staff, we reasoned that all parks should be rentable for parties and functions, and not just the limited amount that were available under the previous policy,” Bliss said. He noted that the policy has not yet been approved by the council, however.

In terms of what he will suggest at the town hall, Bliss said he’s keen to see equipment upgrades at the parks so they resemble what they were like when he grew up in Madison Heights, back when play structures were plentiful and major events were more common.

Rohrbach said she wants to see the city plan on replacing all park equipment that has been removed for safety issues, especially those in the city’s south end. She also wants to see the parks made more accessible and attractive in general. This could include the addition of fitness stations and exercise equipment in the parks for those who are interested.

“In addition, I’m looking at the overall quality of life for residents, and that includes how we can make things like public transport more attractive and accessible for everyone,” she added. “I have an idea for incorporating more bus stop benches and using them as an avenue for increased public art. There are so many opportunities to show the world just how amazing it is to live in Madison Heights, and how unique our community is.”

Those unable to attend the meeting can also share their ideas and feedback with Bliss by calling (248) 274-4673, or with Rohrbach by calling (248) 376-8011. Their Facebook pages are facebook.com/councilmanbliss and www.facebook.com/teamrohrbach.