By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – Eleven new businesses, $10 million in new construction and the elimination of all but one vacant property launched Mayor Kyle Stack’s State of the City address Feb. 4 at Westfield Center.
The event, hosted by the Trenton Rotary Club, featured business and individual awards, and recognized Sgt. Stephen Lyons as Police Officer of the Year for his kayak rescue of a woman whose SUV was sinking in the Detroit River. Firefighter Engineer Gary Rucinski was honored as Firefighter of the Year.
The Open Book Theatre Company received the Business of the Year Award, which was presented to Krista Schafer Ewbank, while community volunteer Scott Barr received the Rotary’s Service Above Self Award.
Stack, who presented her eighth State of the City address, said last year the Building Department received building permit applications for nearly $10 million in construction, double the year before.
She said in the past 10 years, registered vacant properties decreased from 843 to one. The properties were inspected, renovated and either reoccupied or were in process.
Eleven new businesses opened in 2018, with 16 on target to open in 2019, many of which will be on West Road and West Jefferson, Stack said.
Concrete roads received $800,000 worth of repairs, including extensive work on Harrison, and the addition of a 10-foot-wide asphalt bike path now links the Wayne County Parks bike path at Grosse Ile Parkway, she said.
Stack said city officials plan to continue to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete the extension of utilities to the International Wildlife Refuge site on Jefferson by this spring or summer.
The mayor said the city continues to look at various maintenance options with the Frank and Poet Drain, and plans to share those concerns with the county government to remedy concerns. Stack said the city’s department of public services has removed brush, dead trees and debris from the drain between King and West roads.
Stack said Trenton has received a Storm Water Asset Management and Waste Water, or SAW Grant, for $1.5 million for infrastructure work. She said the grant will be used to establish a geographic information system, which will begin by locating all sanitary sewer manholes and their condition, and will eventually be extended to an assessment of all sanitary sewers, as well as the equipment at the Trenton Waste Water Treatment Plant.
She said the DPS, which cleaned and video inspected more than eight miles of sanitary sewers last year, repaired 52 water main breaks, planted 60 trees, and removed or trimmed more than 335 trees.
Stack spoke proudly of the economic developments for the former Riverside Hospital site, the former McLouth site, the Clock Tower property and the former Owens School property.
She said the demolition and cleanup of the McLouth site is expected to take five years.
The mayor said the Police Department is fully staffed for the first time in five years, and 2018 saw a 20 percent reduction in property crime. She also praised the department’s body worn camera pilot initiative.
She said Homeland Security funded a purchase of a drone for use at crowded events, and protective shields for officers responding to dangerous weapon calls.
The Fire Department installed more than 800 smoke detectors free of charge for Trenton residents, responded to more than 2,500 calls, and received a grant which facilitated the purchase of $15,000 worth of new hoses and nozzles, she said, and the Rotary Club funded automatic external defibrillators for the cars of the fire chief and deputy fire chief.
Stack also praised the Parks and Recreation Department’s construction of the West Jefferson Trail Project, which connects the gateway of the International Wildlife Refuge to Elizabeth Park. It opened in September, and a $121,000 grant facilitated project completion, she said.
Stack said the trail enhancement led to the city’s selection for a Pilot Trail Town Initiative, made possible by the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative and a grant from the Ralph J. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund through the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan, made possible in part by the hard work of Recreation Director Joann Gonyea and her staff.
She said the Parks and Recreation Department finalized a five-year master plan this fall, and they received a grant from the Wayne County Park Millage to fund the MacArthur Park redevelopment project.
Stack said plans for emergency situations, such active shooters in schools, were discussed in April by Emergency Manager Coordinator Paul Haley, Director of Police and Fire Steve Voss, Police Chief Todd Scheffler, Trenton Public School Supt. Rod Wakeham and Police Officer Jake Davis.
She said possible precautionary measures and proactive policies have been explored and implemented, and a simulation with volunteer band members, support parents and administrative staff conducted a Saturday morning drill, which included Trenton Beaumont Hospital, and included the transfer of 22 students to the hospital in ambulances and private vehicles as part of the drill.
Stack said she is fortunate to live in Trenton, which she said has dedicated leaders and great residents.
“I am so proud to be the elected leader in a city which has an abundance of kind and proud residents who possess values that would make any city proud,” Stack said. “Thank you for making Trenton the top-notch community that it is.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])