Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Northville officials celebrate ‘State of the Community’

The recent State of the Community address in Northville drew a large crowd to hear updates from Mayor Brian Turnbull, Township Supervisor Mark Abbo and Northville Public School Superintendent Dr. RJ Webber. Business leaders, elected officials or their representatives, and other members of the community were among those who came to hear the speakers and network. The annual event was sponsored by the Northville Chamber of Commerce and Director Doug Wallace was the master of ceremonies.

Turnbull said downtown businesses are going strong and noted that two restaurants were recently featured on Fox TV. He proudly noted that he and the other leaders speaking at the event work well together to help move Northville forward. 

He provided an overview of new projects in Northville and explained that demolition has started on the Downs site and the redeveloped area will have new parks, residences and commercial space as well as a daylighted river.  He noted that the riverwalk development starts at Ford Field, where the Randolph Drain flows into the Middle Rouge River, and will continue through the Foundry Flask site and onto the soon-to-be daylighted river at the Downs river park. He expects the entire riverwalk to be completed in 2027, just in time for the city bicentennial anniversary.

Ford Field is undergoing improvements with a new west-side, barrier-free entrance and reconstruction of the Randolph Drain outlet into the river at Serenity Point in Phase I.  A new playground and restrooms will come in Phase II. There are plans for tree trimming and removal in some places and buried utility lines to provide a scenic view into the park from downtown Northville.

The mayor noted that 6.5 percent of the city population is involved on boards, commissions and task forces to benefit the city.

He touted the championship trees in the city – four worthy of state recognition and two of national recognition. He said the old elm tree behind City Hall is being carved into a mustang (horse) at the top and historical artwork along the trunk.

Abbo spoke about the Michigan International Technology Center (MITC) that is being developed on Five Mile between Beck and Napier in Northville Township. The township received a $10 million grant from the state for MITC. He proudly touted the township triple-A bond rating, which he said is akin to a 850 credit score and said less than 20 communities in Michigan have that rating level. 

The township received a “Top Workplace” award from the Detroit Free Press; he noted they were the first municipality in Michigan to receive it. He mentioned the Parks and Rec award he received from MParks (Top Local Official) had his name on the award only because there couldn’t be 32,000 names on it (the number of residents in Northville Township). He said the township has the privilege of converting 350 acres of former brownfield into Legacy Park, which was a long time in the making. The first phase of the trails will open this fall.

To address community needs, there is now a cricket pitch at the Marv Gans park and will soon open a new skateboard park, Abbo said.

The new Essential Services Complex, public safety headquarters, being built on 15 acres at Legacy Park received a $1 million grant from U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell’s office to replace the communications system for public safety. 

Webber expressed his appreciation to voters who renewed the school bond in 2023, which provides $134.4 million to the school district while maintaining the current debt millage rate for taxpayers. That money has been applied to infrastructure upgrades at Meads Mill School and district wide, technology purchases for students and teachers, and program enhancements, he said. He touted the new, full-day Young 5’s program that starts in the fall and provides activities and lessons for children. Because it’s free, it will save parents a considerable amount on day care, he explained. Webber also mentioned an underwater “drone” program, the SeaPerch project that uses remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to perform several functions. They were tested by engineering students at the Northville High School pool. Webber called all first responders in attendance to the stage to thank them for their service.