By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — City councilors agree: The city has its problems, but the city needs to come together to address and solve the problems rather complain and assign blame elsewhere.
Councilman Henry Sisko said the city has the same problems it had when he ran for office in 2011. A lot of the issues addressed when he ran for office, Sisko said, are still the same issues the city is facing now.
“It hasn’t changed for a lot of reasons. There’s a culture problem within this city of not getting things done,” he said. “We were elected to change that (problem), but it is not going to happen overnight. It is happening, but very slowly.
“It is very difficult to move policy to get things to move in a certain direction. It takes effort, a lot of effort, and not just from us, but from the people of Allen Park.”
He referenced the story of the boy trying the plug the holes in a dam with his fingers then suddenly didn’t have enough fingers.
“This is where we are at,” he said. “The city is short staffed while trying to go from little project to little project.”
Sisko said bringing up problems and speaking on them at the city council meetings is a good start, but the residents also need to come together to work with the council to remedy the situations
Every department has its shortcomings and every department has its problems, but the biggest problem is consistency, Councilman Dennis Hayes said referencing the various ordinance violations prevalent in the city.
“We have these ordinances but we are not consistent in how we enforce these things,” he said “We bring it up and nothing happens.”
The Rev. Joe Mallia of St. Frances Cabrini Church said he is currently organizing a unity walk to try and promote cooperation and strengthen the bond between residents of Allen Park residents despite the apparent problems. The walk is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 18 and he said its purpose is for the residents to come together and celebrate the city.
Mallia said the walk is the beginning of a solution to the city’s problems by beginning the change in the attitude of residents. He said he wants the residents to be proud to say they are from the city of Allen Park and begin that process with a grassroots effort from the residents.
“This walk is aimed to be about people assuming responsibility for themselves and the city,” he said. “There is not one situation, we cannot change ourselves and should not have to rely on government.”
He said he wants to kick start people’s enthusiasm because there are a lot of good things in the city of Allen Park.
“There is definitely still a lot more good than bad within the city,” he said. “People focus on the negative and believe the problem is bigger than themselves.”
Mallia said it is a civic gathering and wants to avoid it being a platform for politicians to come and speak. Council members are encouraged to come, he said, but as a resident of the city because they should be regarded as a resident and nothing more. The focus is to get the residents together, he said, and get excited about where they live.
“Father Joe wanting to do a unity march is just brilliant,” Sisko said. “I really think this city needs to come together and understand the problems, instead of trying to blame this person or that person, blame the police department and the fire department, or blame the people that are getting the pensions, or just blaming everybody.”
(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at [email protected].)