Madison Heights Mayor’s Speech Focuses on “Investing in Our Journey Together”
(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 7, 2021)
Madison Heights, MI – The City of Madison Heights is one that has weathered the storm of the pandemic and is investing in the expectation of a future that is bright for residents and businesses.
Mayor Roslyn Grafstein gave the annual State of the City Address virtually this year, streamed over Facebook Live.
The speech focused on the city’s economic outlook, as well as what improvements residents may have noticed.
“Thanks to the City staff, especially the Fire Department and City Management, the City could respond swiftly to COVID-19 last year and was proactive in protecting our staff while ensuring our vital services continued, Mayor Grafstein said. “We initially furloughed many employees while the City operations drastically slowed during the initial shutdown order. However, we were back up and running as soon as we were able with an unprecedented amount of permits requested for building activities, grant applications and awards, and a focus on being business-friendly while protecting residents.”
Madison Heights still had over $34 million in total construction value for commercial and industrial developments. “The completion of Edward Duffy & Co’s new location on Stephenson Hwy,” was one touted by the mayor in her speech. “The successful retention and relocation of this prominent industrial and manufacturing business was undoubtedly a highlight of the year for our development staff.”
The city also welcomed nearly 200 new small businesses who brought more than 1250 new full and part-time jobs to the community. “Businesses like Luxx Lavander Photography who offer professional headshots and fun family photo shoots right here in our downtown area. The owners of “Tax Max” a tax preparation business that has been on 11 Mile since 2019, opened a custom clothing store House of Drip just a few doors down, also in the DDA. And, we welcomed Bingo Institute of Grooming, a boutique dog grooming school that boasts students from across the state,” Grafstein said.
“New development didn’t stop at our commercial and industrial districts; we also saw further growth in our neighborhoods. Building department staff issued over 1,500 residential building permits that accounted for over $7 million in residential development, including the completion of 17 new homes. We also continued the process for the building of the senior complex on Dequindre south of 13 mile. We expect they will be open later this year.”
In spite of the successes, 2020 was hard on existing businesses, particularly those that had to close their doors or reduce service capacity due to COVID-19.
“Knowing this we proactively continue to seek out and pass on information regarding available federal, state and local relief programs,” the mayor said. She spoke of connecting business owners with information on grants, loans, free supplies to help with COVID prevention compliance, and even partnered with the Madison Heights Chamber on a crowdfunding campaign to support small businesses. $15,750 was raised and that amount was matched by Oakland County and the City for a total of $30,750 given to local businesses.
The City did other things as well, including relaxing parking requirements for bars and restaurants to allow them to add temporary outdoor seating. They have also begun the process of becoming a Redevelopment Ready Community through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which helps to steam line the services businesses need to use.
Investment has not just been aimed at businesses. Mayor Grafstein explained:
“In June, funded in part by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant, Councilor Rohrbach and I cut the ribbon for a new accessible play structure at Wildwood Park. Earlier that month we joined the Environmental Citizens Committee, and other volunteers to plant 32 trees on Moulin, this project was funded by a ReLeaf grant, Alternative Rx, and Holistic Industries.
“The City was also awarded the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Neighborhood Enhancement Program grant for $25,000. This money will be used for home improvements in the area between Lincoln and I-696. In addition, we were awarded a Tree Alliance Grant for trees in this same area. At the end of 2020, we were awarded a Play Everywhere Kaboom! This grant will allow us to invest in the area around our library, creating inviting spaces for everyone to enjoy.”
Investment in safety has also been a priority. “This includes the additional six positions funded by the passing of the MH milage in 2019 allowing us to increase our Public Safety staffing with an additional police dispatch position, two Police Officers to patrol, and three firefighters,” she said. The City also brought on a new K-9 named Harko.
“In 2020 we invested in officer safety and transparency by implementing body cameras, and an in-car camera system. And we upgraded our public safety radio system for both the Police and Fire departments to comply with Clemis. A year after the new Gun Range was built, our Police entered into Gun Range Use Agreements with the Royal Oak Police Department, US Marshals and Clawson PD. This is both an investment in resource sharing with our neighbor and a financially prudent technique to reduce operational cost.
“Our investment in reinstating the Special Investigations Unit in 2018 has been instrumental in increasing safety throughout the community. This has been most notable since 2018 when Council passed a hotel ordinance and our reinstated Special Investigations Unit began working with motel management to reduce crime. I speak from the heart when I say that we appreciate our Police Department and Firefighters who put their lives on the line everyday so that we can be safe.”
Mayor Grafstein thanked many of the clubs and commissions that help make the Madison Heights community great, like the Mens and Womens Clubs and their various service activities, and the Arts Board for helping bring murals and music to the city.
Coming up this year, the city is hosting a 5k run/walk in April, the Memorial Day parade in May, Festival in the Park with fireworks in June and the annual Tree Lighting in November.
“This upcoming year will be busy as we look forward to emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic to discover our new normal and find new ways to invest and grow the city,” Mayor Grafstein said. “Together we are creating a bright future that like our past is uniquely Madison Heights; proving year after year that there’s no better place to raise a family or open a business than right here.”
Watch the full State of the City address here.
For more on the City of Madison Heights visit https://www.madison-heights.org/