From infrastructure to new business development to neighborhood needs, Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko and Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. delivered State of the City addresses Jan. 14 updating each city’s progress and plans.
The event, sponsored by the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Warren Valley Golf Club and Banquet Center in Dearborn Heights.
Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko delivers his State of the City address Jan. 14 at the Warren Valley Banquet Center in Dearborn Heights.
Sue Suchyta — For MediaNews Group
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Dearborn Heights has new employees, fresh ideas
Paletko said he is proud that Dearborn Heights acquired Warren Valley in the past year, which includes two golf courses and a banquet center.
“We are proud of it, and we intend to make it the best golf course in the world,” Paletko said. “So, you are going to see some sweet things.”
He said Dearborn Heights has added to its fund balance in the past year, and remains in good financial health.
“This can only be accomplished by our cost control efforts, diligent management from our staff and the support of our businesses and residents,” Paletko said.
While many city staff retired in the past year, he said, the new people have brought fresh ideas and perspective to the city.
Former Police Chief Lee Gavin, who retired in November 2018, now serves as Dearborn Heights Emergency Manager Coordinator, which includes work with the Community Emergency Response Team and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation training workshops.
“I couldn’t ask for a better staff in helping the residents through floods, and the problems we experienced this weekend,” Paletko said, noting the work of Chief of Staff Krystina Laslo, Ordinance and Animal Control Director Jack McIntyre, Fire Chief Dave Brogan and others.
“Countless DPW employees, firefighters, clerical employees, part-timers, our police new leadership and police officers and CERT members have all risen to the occasion when we have unfortunately incurred flooding situations,” Paletko said.
He said new Department of Public Works Director John Selmi has used his knowledge, skills and networking capability to make a positive impact in Dearborn Heights.
“Together, we have increased capital outlay, and have an aggressive plan to replace equipment and move the DPW to lead the way in technology and new processes that will ensure the safety of our employees and better services for our residents and business owners,” Paletko said.
He said upcoming paving projects under Selmi’s direction include Charlesworth from Ford to Warren, Gulley from Hass to Richardson, Fenton from Hass to Richardson and Annapolis from Monroe to Harding.
Paletko said Dearborn Heights will continue with its large sewer separation project, focusing on an area north of Michigan Avenue. He said 200 service lines from water mains will be replaced, and said the 2020 water main replacement projects include Joy Road from Inkster to Beech Daly, Silvery Lane from Hass to Warren, and Campbell, Williams and Clippert, north of Van Born.
Paletko said Brian Haddad, who became the city’s recreation director in April, used his connections to bring popular bands to the Spirit Festival. He has secured Fifty Amp Fuse for the Friday night entertainment for the 2020 Spirit Fest, and will sponsor a first-ever Corn Hole Tournament during Spirit Fest.
He said the city’s holiday tree lighting was held for the first time at Warren Valley, a move that may continue.
Paletko said Haddad plans to improve Swapka and Van Houten parks in the coming year.
Following the retirement of Building Department official Mohamed Sobh in the fall of 2018, he said, Director Jack McIntyre worked with Wade Trim personnel to provide day-to-day operations. In September, Larry Domski became the new director of the Building and Engineering Department.
Paletko said the Van Born Corridor Steering Committee continues to meet to review the compatibility of Dearborn Heights and Taylor zoning ordinances along the corridor.
“Jack and Larry are continuing to work together to get the inspections online, and with the inspectors using tablets, business owners, residents, contractors and Realtors will be able to view the inspections online without having to physically come in to City Hall,” Paletko said. “Certain permits will be available online to further move transactions and our city into the future.”
He said new projects in the upcoming year include a new outbuilding in front of the Target store on Ford Road, a new retail facility at the location of the former Trail Bar, and a remodeled gas station, with a coffee drive-through, at the northwest corner of Van Born and Telegraph.
In the Police Department, following Gavin’s retirement, Dan Voltattorni served as police chief until this fall, when the succession plan continued with Michael Petri assuming the role of chief for the next year.
“With retirements and promotions, our Police Department is in a constant state of hiring,” Paletko said. “In working with Human Resources Director Elisabeth Sobota-Perry, we will continue to hire new officers to grow this department and diversify to reflect our ever-changing community.”
He congratulated City Treasurer John Riley on his upcoming April 30 retirement.
Paletko also extended his appreciation to the city’s firefighters.
“With the leadership of Chief Brogan, and the close relationship between the union and management, I think we have a perfect department,” Paletko said.
He said as the city moves into 2020, it will continue to ensure that residents and businesses enjoy the same city services and programs to which they are accustomed.
“We will also continue to work diligently toward keeping our expenses as low as possible, while advancing our city into the future,” Paletko said. “Those of you who are business owners, and or residents of Dearborn Heights, know why our community is so special: We are a residential community with a unique blend of small- to middle-sized retail outlets, private practices, service organizations and a modest number of manufacturing facilities.
“This composition, I believe, makes a rich community, based entirely by fostering a diverse selection of goods and services for our residents which fosters the shared sense of community that is so vital to our environment.”
Paletko said Dearborn Heights values all of its businesses and appreciates their involvement, which he said plays an important role in the continued fiscal and social well-being of the city.
Exciting happenings in Dearborn, too
O’Reilly said it is really exciting to know that things are moving forward and are going well in Dearborn, as well.
“We are very pleased to be here and really, it’s all about what are we doing and how are we doing it, and that is what I want to talk about today,” O’Reilly said. “The sewer separation project that we have been doing has been very, very successful. It has allowed us to make sure that when we do have some issue or something in terms of water issues and so on, they don’t have an impact on people’s homes in terms of garbage and trash, because all of those have now been separated, and so we have made sure that people won’t have that terrible situation to deal with going forward.”