By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Urgently needed infrastructure improvements, from the schools, to the roads, courthouse and police station, were the focus of the Lincoln Park State of the City and Schools addresses March 27.
Infrastructure, and the more challenging issues of how to pay for it, was matched by good news, as Supt. Terry Dangerfield reported on positive academic gains and the life-changing impact of the Resilient Schools Project, and Mayor Tom Karnes spoke of the business and economic development opportunities which await the city.
Dangerfield said Lincoln Park Public School students are performing better on state tests than they were two years ago.
“Our students are demonstrating more mastery and also improving in their overall growth,” Dangerfield said.
He said the Mackinac Center for Public Policy released its content performance report card, and ranked LPHS as the third highest performing high school against 17 other Downriver public high schools, and ranked 120 out of 674 public high school state wide in a ranking where socio-economic and income factors are factored into the equation.
Dangerfield said the Resilient Schools Project is an intensive approach to being trauma-informed and resilient-focused. The program sees student behavior as a form of communication that provides staff with information on how to address student needs. By helping a child learn to deal with the stress and trauma in their lives, they can prepare them to be able to learn.
“This work is some of the most impactful and quality work I have been a part of in my over 20 years of a teaching career,” Dangerfield said,
Dangerfield said the biggest challenge facing the district is the need for infrastructure improvements on the city’s schools, many of which were built in the 1950s. He said $113 million is needed in total for infrastructure improvements, but $60.9 million is needed for the next five years just to provide a dry, safe and warm environment in the school buildings. He said a bond millage may go on the ballot in May to seek resident approval to improve school infrastructure.
Karnes also spoke of the urgent need for infrastructure improvement, from the roads, to city building repairs, to a new jail and courthouse. He spoke of the need to improve the city’s credit rating to get the best possible interest rate for the project, and the possible alternative funding options which the city could pursue.
Karnes said more than $100 million is needed for road repairs, and city hall and the bandshell need repairs, but they must be done with budgeted funds, and not by spending money the city doesn’t have.
The fire and police departments have made tremendous strides which impact the quality of life in Lincoln Park, Karnes said. The use of Narcan has saved lives amid the opioid crisis.
Karnes said while the closing of Sears was a disappointment, it leaves a large property available in the city for future development. He said Giles Tucker of the Economic Development Corporation has been busy in meetings with the owners of the Sears development. He emphasized the importance of the Dix and Southfield area to the city’s economic viability.
He said city officials are still weighing the pros and cons of recreational marijuana sales in the city, and it is launching a recycling initiative at a time of changing markets for the recycled materials.
Karnes said the city’s residents, including its service clubs, are vital to the city.
“Lincoln Park is a nice place to live and raise your family,” Karnes said. “Nice neighborhoods, good schools and plenty of opportunity.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])