Hazel Park Mayor Gives 2015 State of the City Address
Hazel Park Mayor Janice Parisi addressed a crowd for both Hazel Park and Madison Heights as the communities held a combined State of the City address on March 10, hosted by the Madison-Park Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Parisi outlined many positives of her city in the 2015 State of the City address:
Good Morning Everyone!
It’s great to be here in Madison Heights to join the Chamber of Commerce for the 2015 Hazel Park State of the City Address.
First of all I’d like to congratulate the City of Madison Heights on their 60th anniversary. Our communities have worked together for decades. We are truly sister cities, and I wish us both many more years of success.
Next I want to recognize our outstanding former Mayor Jack Lloyd. He served in that capacity for 12 years from 2002 to 2014, and was also a Councilman from 1985 to 1991 and from 1995 to 2002. Jack and I have been good friends for many years, and together we were part of the longest-serving Council in Hazel Park’s history. I am truly honored to follow him as the Mayor of Hazel Park.
I’d like to welcome our newest Councilmember, Mr. Tom Selman. In addition to his current term, he also served on Hazel Park’s City Council from 1994 to 1995, and is a very active member of our community.
I’d also like to thank our wonderful City administrators and employees. They do a great job of keeping our City running. Thank you!
It’s been a great year for the City of Hazel Park. In 2014 our A+ credit rating was affirmed by Standard and Poor’s, while our Fiscal Indicator Score rose from a troubling “5” to a very stable “2”.
We recently passed the all-important South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority millage, which will ensure that Hazel Park can provide our residents with vital fire and police protection. This first-of-its-kind arrangement with Eastpointe created an authority to fund fire services in both communities. Each city will keep its own fire department, which will be funded by SMORSA.
If our voters had not passed this millage, police and fire services would have been gutted, as well as the public works and recreation departments. Thank you Hazel Park voters!
Police and fire protection are critically important to any municipality, and Hazel Park is blessed with outstanding police officers and firefighters. Thanks to the great work of our police department and with the help of our residents, Hazel Park’s crime rate continues to fall. Almost all major crime classes are down for the third year in a row!
Chief Barner, I want to recognize you and your officers for the great work that you all do. Thank you.
Besides steep reductions in crime, some of the other highlights for the Hazel Park police department in the past year include:
-The sale of guns to cover the cost of new firearms for our officers.
-The use of drug forfeiture funds to cover the cost of new police cars.
-Re-instituting the program whereby our officers agree to purchase their own patrol rifles.
-and the selection of Patrolman Anton Locher as a member of the Southeast Oakland County SWAT Team, adding another important capability for our police department.
As the police force has continued to efficiently upgrade in order to better protect our residents, the fire department has done likewise. This is important because as Hazel Park continues to age, fire and medical runs are steadily increasing. The cooperative automatic mutual aid agreement that we share with Madison Heights and Ferndale adds to the safety of all three communities. This is a great example of service sharing that works.
Like the police force, our fire department has been very frugal. Our ISO rating has improved from 5 to 4 last year, which is a great point of pride for us. We also purchased a used ambulance and refurbished it, providing a great value for our residents. Additionally, we acquired used “Jaws-of-Life” equipment resulting in further savings and enhanced capability.
I would like to recognize our new Fire Chief Rich Story and the Hazel Park Fire Department for all their hard work, especially these past few months in the run-up to the millage election. Thank you.
Our firefighters were also proud to accept a generous gift from Kurtis Kitchen & Bath to completely remodel the kitchen at the Hazel Park fire station. I’d like to thank Kurtis Kitchen & Bath for their wonderful gift to our fire department.
In addition to our police and fire services, the Department of Public Works continues to do an outstanding job. This summer the DPW began a Sidewalk Replacement Program, which repairs damaged or uneven sections of sidewalk in order to make our streets as safe as possible for pedestrians. On a similar note two of our roadways will repaved this year, Couzens Avenue and West End.
In an effort to save money the DPW has spearheaded an initiative to replace all current lighting in City buildings with high-efficiency LED lights. This will save us 20-40% on electric bills within two years. The institution of public works and water department overnight crews have also saved on overtime costs while greatly increasing response time during nighttime hours.
As part of our efforts to protect the environment, DPW once again hosted Earth Awareness Day, where unwanted electronics, prescription drugs, and environmental hazards are collected from our residents. We really appreciate our public works and water teams for all that they’ve done. Thank you.
The great flood of August 11th proved how important it is to have excellent emergency services. I am proud to say that I was the first mayor in Michigan to declare a State of Emergency in what would later be categorized as a Federal Disaster Area by President Barack Obama. Our U.S. Representative, Sander Levin, even flew in to survey the damage for himself.
In the aftermath of the flood, piles of waterlogged rubbish were cleaned out of thousands of basements. Because we happened to be last in line for service, Hazel Park couldn’t wait for our trash contractor to clear the mounting garbage. City Manager Ed Klobucher made the decision that Hazel Park would act on its own to begin trash collection.
Our swift response earned praise and recognition from across the region. Every employee that could help joined our DPW to help collect trash. We had water department workers, firemen and office secretaries all throwing garbage into front-end loaders and pickup trucks to assist our contractors.
I want to extend a special thank you to County Commissioner Helaine Zack, who arranged for the Oakland County Road Commission to provide us with three dump trucks that were desperately needed to begin picking up the trash on our own. Thank you Helaine and thank you to the Oakland County Road Commission.
Working together, we avoided a public health crisis and showed the region how Hazel Park pulls together. I’m so proud of our residents and employees!
Emergency services like police, fire, and public works are crucial to the safety of our citizens. Equally important, however, are services that add to the overall quality of life. The Hazel Park Recreation Department fulfills that role. Providing services for children, adults and seniors, the Rec. Department offers both fun activities and vital community services like senior transportation and meals-on-wheels.
We were very sad to see longtime Rec. Director Barbara Scott retire last year. However we were pleased to welcome in Sareen Papakhian. Under Sareen’s stewardship the department has introduced Kung-Fu, Tai-Chi, tennis and yoga to the list of programs offered. And this year’s Daddy-Daughter Dance was more successful than ever.
With a generous donation from the Meijer Corporation in November, the Rec. Department was able to acquire a brand new multi-use pitching machine for baseball and softball. This marks the first time our girl’s softball program has ever had use of a pitching machine.
Public outreach and social media connectivity have been totally revamped as well. In addition, several informational and educational clinics for seniors are also put on throughout the year to spread awareness of current issues of importance.
It seems like preparations for next year’s Memorial Day celebration begin as soon as the previous one ends. Well this year we expect to have a truly sensational Memorial Day because the last installment went so well. In fact, it was the most successful in Hazel Park history! Thanks again to our Rec. Department and all the other departments that make this event possible!
On October 23rd of last year we opened the Karam Dog Park. Many of our residents wanted a safe, clean place to exercise their canine companions. Now thanks to the great work of our staff, Hazel Park has the perfect place for dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Work has continued on the Community Gardens on Merrill St. and at Kennedy Park. We are proud to move forward on these efforts to green our city while providing healthy, low-cost dietary options for local residents. Efforts are currently underway to set up a farmers market to complete Hazel Park’s garden-to-table initiative.
The Neighborhood Enrichment organization is very involved in the Kennedy Park Community Garden. They have been crucial to its success, reviving it with flowers, plants, and two benches in memory of former Councilwoman Frances Presnell who recently passed away. Furthermore, Neighborhood Enrichment puts on community events like the annual Beautification Awards and pumpkin painting for kids in the fall.
I would also like to recognize CityEdge Church for all the great work they have done in our parks. The annual Trunk-n-Treat Halloween event at Tuski Park was a great success once again, and the refurbishment of Sutar Sutarek Park was wonderful.
Another invaluable community group is the Hazel Park Lions Club. They are a vital part of what makes our Memorial Day festivities so special. Additionally, each year they make a substantial donation to the Hazel Park Promise Zone’s scholarship fund.
Speaking of the Promise Zone, it is something that has always been very near and dear to my heart. This program allows all Hazel Park High School graduates to attend college by helping them to locate scholarship opportunities. We just had our annual fundraising dinner at the Hazel Park Raceway as well. Thanks in large part to the Promise Zone, the High School has seen its average ACT scores rise substantially!
Between it’s involvement in the Local College Access Network and skilled trades programs for people of all ages, I am extremely proud of all that the Promise Zone does. Together we are striving to make Hazel Park a learning community, so that we can be well-positioned to adapt to an ever changing economy. I would really like to thank the Promise Zone staff and contributors for all the work they have done.
On September 30th, we recognized hometown hero and MMA star Myles Jury. Myles is ranked as the #9 lightweight contender in the UFC. We are so proud that Myles calls Hazel Park home. Keep up the good work Myles!
The 3rd annual Art Fair came to town in August. We were thrilled to see so many patrons of the arts visit our city. As for the musicians and artists themselves, thank you for another great year. We hope for many more!
Another Hazel Park tradition is the making of holiday baskets for families who may not be so fortunate during the Christmas season. Hundreds of baskets are made by volunteers of all ages from across the community. It is one way that we show how our city comes together to help those in need.
Another great example of Hazel Park rallying together came in December, when a local family was evicted just before Christmas by an unscrupulous landlord. The people of our community showed what we’re made of when we helped to find them a place to live right away. I even put on gloves and helped clean their new home! This ability to come together in cooperation when the going gets tough has always been our “secret sauce!”
2014 witnessed thoroughbred racing return to the Hazel Park Raceway for the first time in 30 years. This has led to increased attendance and a renewed focus on this local landmark.
In addition to the Raceway, we are very proud of other Hazel Park institutions like Loui’s Pizza and Continental Bike Shop. However in order to grow as a city it is necessary to welcome in new businesses as well. We are pleased to announce a wide variety of new economic development coming soon.
A new Save-A-Lot store will break ground soon and is set to be completed by the fall. We are also very excited about the art studio coming in along John R. It is owned by the supremely talented artist Brian Dubois. Additionally, while nothing is written in stone yet, we are currently working on a development at the Raceway that would be the biggest in Hazel Park history!
I would also like to thank all of our Mobile Communications Support Unit personnel, auxiliary police officers, and our wonderful animal shelter volunteers, who have donated their time and energy to make our city a better place to live. We will soon have a new Community Emergency Response Team as well. I encourage our residents to join these great organizations and be a part of some of the groups that make our community special. Thank you!
There’s more good news too. According to website Thrillist, Hazel Park is going to be “the next inner-ring suburb to get colonized by hipsters”, and we consider that a good thing!
We’re glad to hear that the local media has identified Hazel Park as the next “cool” place to be. To those of us who have lived here for awhile, we know how great our city is. Nobody pulls together like the people of Hazel Park. Be it helping out families in need, growing our own food sustainably, or our residents being so involved in the many great volunteer opportunities here, Hazel Park is truly a resilient community.
It is this unbreakable spirit that pulled us through the depths of the Great Recession. Now with the passage of the SMORSA millage and several new developments in the pipeline, our future is brighter than ever! Come join us! Hazel Park is a great place to live, work and raise a family. It’s also a great place to visit. Thank you!
Learn more about the City of Hazel Park at http://www.hazelpark.org/.
For more Hazel Park new go to http://oaklandcounty115.com/category/hazel-park-2/.
Hazel Park Mayor Gives 2015 State of the City Address