Sunflowers and Other Bright Spots in Oak Park…

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(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 27, 2016)

Oak Park, MI – As guests came in from the cold to Oak Park City Hall for the State of the City Address Thursday they were greeted by more than just the warmth of smiling faces and the shine of a fairly new building. Throughout the lobby and the council chambers, there were bright yellow sunflowers to set the tone and foreshadow the City’s plans.

“Starting this spring, we will be planting sunflowers in various locations throughout the city,” said City Manager Erik Tungate. “Sunflowers represent faith, happiness, hope and unity. As SaharaAd_04these wonderful flowers bloom this summer, we will let them represent our better nature and we will surely see the glory that we had dreamed about almost four years ago.”

In comparison to the list of successes and the list of future plans, the decorative touch of flowers really is not the biggest thing to be excited about. Yet the theme is a bright reminder of the growth Oak Park is in the midst of.

Four years ago the city gained a new Mayor and a new City Manager, with changes in staff, policies, priorities and direction. An emphasis on economic development helped the city attract new businesses, including the announcement of 8MK, a restaurant that is coming into the old WWJ building on 8 Mile. The city also gave up its status as being the largest dry city in Michigan, with approval of beer, wine and spirit sales at restaurants. The owners of Sahara Restaurant led the fight for the ballot approval and began selling drinks in 2013. There are 20 more liquor licenses up for grabs, and the city is welcoming restaurants to come in get their baby modern natural 03businesses established.

A major development was the FedEx facility that broke ground in 2015 and Planet Fitness recently announced they will be opening at 10 Mile and Coolidge.

In 2014 there were 29 new businesses. In 2015 there were 70. And in the first month of 2016 there were already 14. “You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Mayor McClellan said.

The State of the City also gave glimpses into the future, with Tungate announcing pop up recreation activities and a three-year-balanced budget with a little wiggle room for investment in city services.

Check out the video below to learn more about the blossoming of Oak Park:

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