By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – From the land preserve to a recreational marijuana retail ballot initiative, Mayor Andrew Swift touched on topics important to residents May 3 during his state of the city address at Arnaldo’s.
During the luncheon, held in conjunction with the Southgate Rotary, Swift honored U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-6th District) for her service to the city prior to her shifting regions due to redistricting.
Also in attendance and honored were business leaders Joseph and Mark Bacall of Michigan House and Bellaire Senior Living, Sarah Vail of Avalon Day Spa, Steve Shamou and Mike Palmer of Premier Pet Supply, Amy Daversa of Poke Ur Way Restaurant, and Jean Vila and Waad Oraha of Savvy Sliders.
Swift thanked the Southgate Rotary for organizing the event, and said he is looking forward to the formation of a Riverview Rotary Club.
The mayor said that the master of ceremonies and his predecessor, Tim Durand, told him to always tell the truth, even when residents don’t want to hear it. He said the mayor “gets blamed for everything and very rarely gets the credit.”
Swift said that Riverview is facing many challenges, including Wayne County’s denial of the city’s landfill expansion request, which will result in its closure in 10 to 12 years and will have a significant impact on the city’s budget.
“Our new city manager, Jeff Dobek, is working with the council now to start weaning ourselves from an enterprise that has provided $1.5 to $3 million a year in revenue in place of property taxes since 1968,” he said. “This process will take every bit of those remaining years to accomplish the goal of Riverview without a landfill.”
Swift said the resident-driven initiative to restore the prohibition of recreational cannabis sales within the city presents a controversial challenge.
He said if residents pass the proposal, the six to seven existing dispensaries would have to close by June 30, 2024, while if it doesn’t pass, the number of dispensaries could increase from nine to 12.
“I am and always have been a proponent of the residents voting on this issue,” Swift said. “No matter what the results of the election are, we’ll have our marching orders and the will of the people will be done.”
He mentioned John Allen, the city’s new police chief, and was pleased to announced the hiring of three veteran police officers from other communities, which was made possible by allowing lateral transfers.
Swift said all of the city’s police officers have received active shooter response training in conjunction with the Fire Department.
He said the Fire Department has hired three new full-time firefighter/paramedics to increase staffing levels, and have established a job-shadowing program for Riverview High School seniors.
Swift said the school district is a co-sponsor of a dual-enrollment program with Schoolcraft College that allows juniors and seniors to enroll in a firefighter and emergency medical services program.
He said the Riverview Highlands Golf Course continues to make improvements, which have resulted in positive feedback and recognitions, as well as an increase in seasonal passholders.
Swift said the Recreation Department has Summerfest planned for June 15 to 17, as well as Wednesday concerts during July and August at Young Patriots Park.
In addition, the city will celebrate its centennial Sept. 23 with family-friendly activities.
“Riverview is a great place to live, work and play,” he said.