State of the City Address
I would like to thank each of you for coming out this evening, so that I can speak with you about the state of our city. Before I get started I would like to acknowledge some of our dignitaries and guests.
Last year I stood before you and delivered a vision and/or wish list that we as elected officials wanted to accomplish in our first year in office. I outlined various goals we had for the city, and programs we wanted to implement to improve the quality of life for our residents and business owners. Last year there was a lot of talk about holding your public officials accountable. Tonight, I will outline our first year’s accomplishments.
My top priority was and still is public safety. Without a safe, secure city we cannot expect the growth, and change that we all desire. After inheriting a police department in need of reform, Chief William Riley has made great progress in his efforts to bring about change. The focus on customer service and employee training have both been tremendously beneficial to our community, its residents. Chief William Riley implemented an annual scholarship program were we can send and fund two young people in the community to the police academy at no cost to the city.
Chief Riley was able to accomplish this by working with Imam Pasha who is a business owner in our community. I am happy to announce that we have two individuals who are attending the policy academy, as we speak, and upon graduation they will work for the Inkster Police Department. In addition, Chief Riley created a home ownership program to encourage our police officers and fire fighters to live in our community.
The city will sell the homes at a nominal price with the agreement that the officer/or firefighter would renovate it and live in the home for a minimum of 5 years. This will increase the number of police officers and fire fighters who live in our community. We are hoping that our soon to be graduating cadets will take advantage of the incentive to live in our city. Over the last year…..
- IPD provided Training of ALL police personnel in Police Sensitivity Training and Cultural Awareness including Auxiliary Officers.
- We Trained officers in First Aid/CPR. This training paid off recently when one of our officers provided CPR and saved citizen’s life.
- The department purchased 35 body cameras, to be more transparent in our operations and aid us in policing the public and ourselves.
- The department purchased 18 new Tasers so that we can have more “Less Lethal” options for our officers.
- The department has been reorganized to better serve the public and ensure accountability. We added a Commander’s position, and a Lieutenant’s position as well as creating an Internal Affairs position to investigate officer complaints.
- We also added an additional detective to the investigations unit, and hired 2 new officers.
- We Purchased 3 motorcycles from our neighboring police department to re-establish our motorcycle unit to provide better traffic enforcement within our city.
- We applied for and received 3 state grants totaling $782,328.00. The grants allowed us to hire a Community Relations Officer, Andrea Lebo. Please stand. For all you other mayors out there, hands off our Lebo, she wonderful, and you can’t have her.
- We also replaced over 100 portable and mobile radios for Police and Fire, and purchased 4 new patrol SUVs fully equipped.
- During the past year we were able to utilize other grant funding and drug forfeiture funds to purchase 2 new SUVs for police administration and 2 new patrol SUVs fully equipped. (It had been over 6 years since the city had purchased brand new police vehicles).
In the area of Community Policing
- We partnered with St. Clements Episcopal Church and Father Clifton Ellis to bring back scouting to the city of Inkster after a 25 year plus hiatus.
- We partnered with the Booker T. Dozier Recreation Center, Director Craig Lewis and the Inkster Legends, to form an Inkster Police Athletic League. On January 19th a successful fundraiser dinner was held at this facility bringing together many members of the community, including business owners, city employees, police officers and the youth.
- IPD partnered with Denise Champagne and Commission on Aging to have bake sales to encourage our children to wear bicycle helmets.
- IPD partnered with local agencies and faith based organizations such as local churches and businesses, including both Growth Works and Starfish, to provide services to our community.
- We are currently upgrading aging computers and I.T. infrastructure using approximately $30,000.00 in Federal Grant dollars, this is a much needed improvement that will drastically improve both officer efficiency, and customer service.
- We continue to partner with and receive valued assistance from: the Michigan State Police, Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, and our surrounding police agencies. We believe in working together to solve our regional problems.
- In 2016 we had some increases in crime areas, however overall reported crime in the City of Inkster was reduced by 12%. We must continue to be good neighbors. If you see something, say something. We cannot expect the police department to be everywhere all of the time. It is incumbent on us as citizens to get involved, and I am glad to report that overall citizen involvement is up more than 50 percent from years prior.
There is much work left to be done, and our citizens are capable, and now more than ever, willing to be a part of the solution.
- Our goal is to continue to reduce crime in our city, increase the number of police officers in the department and continue to work closely with other agencies to provide the best services to our community. Working together we can have a safer and productive city.
The Police Department’s Vision for the upcoming year is to build on those accomplishments from last year. We will bring additional technology to our Police and Fire Departments. In order to serve and protect our community.
The planning commission has proposed and recommended changes to our zoning ordinances to require all businesses to have high definition cameras on the outside of their buildings. This not only protects the business owners, it also aides our police department in solving crimes by having access to surveillance footage of all of the commercial districts in our city. 24 hour surveillance of our main thoroughfares will hopefully act as a deterrent to those who commit crimes. And if they are not deterred then we will make room for them in our County jail and State prison system. Our city can’t grow unless our residents and visitors feel safe. If you commit a crime in Inkster, you will get caught and you will pay the price.
My first executive order as Mayor was to return ordinance enforcement to the police department under direction of the Chief of Police. This allowed our ordinance officers to access the tools they need to get their job done more efficiently, and with more accountability. Cleaning up our community is not only a priority for me, but for many citizens I talk with each and every day. I am listening, and working hard to address these types of issues. We are working on a dumping task force, creating a nexus of city employees including police, fire, planning, ordinance, and auxiliary officers to catch, and convict those who come into our community and illegally dump. For far too long, Inkster has been considered a safe zone to dump. No MORE. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law, including the seizure of your vehicle, trailers or any other equipment used to dump in our city. We are aggressively investigating these cases.
I want to acknowledge the Inkster Clean up Coalition organized by Sandra Watley, Cara Woods. Mr. Woods is our garbage guru in our city. He spends his own money organizing and cleaning up various areas of our city. Last year over 760 tons of garbage was cleaned up by the coalition. We want to thank him and Sandra Watley and everyone who volunteered for their service. We are going to continue this clean up movement under title operation Civic Pride in 2017. So make sure you volunteer.
Accomplishments for 2016
- The fire department was able to maintain the 12 grant funded employees which in turn allowed us to provide the citizens with quality rescue medical care and firefighting services.
- The fire department was able to procure a new rescue truck which increased our fleet from one to two.
- Also we purchased a reserve rescue truck gives us the ability to keep two trucks in service when one is down for repairs.
- The department had two of its officers graduate from the school of Staff and Command which is a top notch 10 month college fire officer training program.
- Our firefighters donated their own time to help in the collaborative cleanup initiative in our city which was greatly appreciated by the residents of the city.
- The fire department, in the summer of 2016. Hired a new Fire Chief, Chuck Hubbard, Please stand. Chief Hubbard is working diligently to improve the quality of fire services that we provide our residents and business owners.
FD Goals for 2017 Include
- Find a way to increase revenue and/or to procure additional grant monies so we can maintain the 12 safer grant funded firefighters that we hired in 2015.
- We are seeking financing to purchase a new Engine to replace the 18 year old one we currently have.
- We want to successfully enter into a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the city and the union to benefit both parties.
- The department wants to Set up a scholarship fund for Inkster residents and under-represented minority groups to get their Firefighter 1&2 certifications, and paramedic license.
- We will Implement the fire department succession plan which enhances the fire prevention division.
- The administration is currently looking into the feasibility of creating a fire authority to consolidate the providing of fire services to our residents with the city of Wayne. Stay tuned in to our upcoming city council meetings to find out more information regarding this.
Youth and Parks and Recreation
As most of you know, Craig Lewis is the person who you see when you walk in this building. He was given the challenge of making the parks and recreation department of our city better without receiving any additional funding or supports from the city other than the mileage money that is dedicated to parks and recreation department. He along with Denise Champagne and our super involved seniors went out last year and successfully campaigned for the residents to support the mileage renewal for parks and rec and for our seniors.
- P&R Commission adopted the new Master Plan in February of 2016, which was also approved by the city council. This enables the parks and rec department to be eligible for state and federal grants funds and acts as their strategic plan to move the programs forward.
- The Dozier, in collaboration with Reggie Butler, hosted a NCAA Certified “BIG MAN” camp. The camp hosted over 40 players from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and over 30 college coaches from Div. 1, 2, 3.
- We Applied for and received the DTE/City Connect funding for one of our summer youth employment programs. This funding made it possible for 12 Inkster youth to work this past summer in and around the community.
- Right across the hall the reading room, computer lab, hallway and elevator received new carpet.
- P&R department co-sponsored the Stuff the Bus Event with TRUTH Recovery Inc. that provided fun activities and school supplies for the youth throughout community.
- The Dozier Summer AAU League hosted by Motor City Thunder had a total of 32 teams from around the state that competed in a 6 week league.
- Parks and Rec. Coordinated the Summer Youth Employment Program which provided 20 youth the opportunity to work in various departments throughout the city municipal organization.
- Last Summer Craig hosted our Summer Youth Enrichment Program that included tutoring in math, science, reading, art, chess, & gardening. We took our youth on field trips to the Michigan Institute of Science, Chandler Park Water Park, and Stables @ Maybury State Park, and also Michigan Adventure’s Amusement Park.
- Right outside this room we just Completed the hallway ceiling project and replaced the antiquated lighting system in the Gymnasium to cut cost and save money.
- Every Friday Gleaners Community Food Harvest has a free food distribution downstairs.
- In October the Dozier hosted its annual Halloween Party, we had over 600 children in attendance, and had over 240 visitors go through our haunted locker room, and we gave away over 620 bags of candy.
- In December the Senior Commission on Aging hosted their annual Christmas Party and gave away over 100 door prizes. It was attended by over 200 seniors and many elected officials.
- The City of Inkster just recently put on its annual All Employee Holiday Party. The party was hosted by myself and coordinated through the city clerk’s office. The employees were giving prizes and a delicious catered lunch.
Future Projects And Goals
- P&R have requested two million dollars in funding from the State of Michigan through our State Senator David Knezek to renovate this building. Keep your fingers crossed.
- TBD Boxing & Fitness program will starting back up at to the Dozier for citizens as well as competitive boxing enthusiast. We have our first amateur boxing event of the year on February 24, 2017.
- Seeds 2 Feed Male Mentoring Program- has recently begun here at the dozier, it will complement the current SWAP program for our young ladies. This program will focus on chivalry, grooming, and respect with hopes that our young men will learn and lead.
- Inkster Police Athletic League just had their kickoff dinner. We will begin having youth basketball leagues starting in March 2017. Craig Lewis sits on the IPAL board, and was instrumental to getting this program off the ground along with Police Chief William Riley and Officer Andrea Lebo.
- The Parks and Recreation Department will be aggressively going after grant money and donations to continually improve the building and programing for the youth in our community.
In March of 2012 the city of Inkster entered into a consent agreement with the state of Michigan which included a five year payment plan to pay off all of the city’s debt. On June 8, 2016 after several meetings with the Department of Treasury the city of Inkster was released from it consent agreement one year early and deemed financially stable by the State of Michigan. This was a big deal for our city, and is a fresh reminder on how we must live within our means and increase our revenue to grow our city. Many painful sacrifices were made by both employees and residents. They deserve a round of applause. Barring a natural disaster, I’m committed to make sure we never allow our city to get into an unstable financial situation again.
You might have heard after 52 years we rewrote and adopted a new city charter. We changed from the city manager form of government to a council mayor form of government. Democracy has been restored to our city because the residents decided that they would rather have their own elected officials run the day to day operations of our city rather than an employee who doesn’t necessarily have a vested interest in our city. If our city is not good enough for you to live in, then you have no business running our city government.
I would like to acknowledge the hard work that the charter commissioners did in 2016 making the necessary changes in how we function as a city for the betterment of the community. The charter commissioners were elected the 1st week of May 2016 and they met weekly for four hours at a time, and rewrote the city charter in 3 months. It was placed on the ballot for November 8, 2016. The residents of the city of Inkster adopted the new city charter overwhelmingly. I would like all of the Charter Commissioners Present to Stand.
For some change is hard, but not for us. When the people of this city come together great things happen. I appreciate the fact that 70% of our residents trusted us as elected officials to put the power in our hands to move this city forward. We will not let you down.
Since I have taken over the day to day operations on December 12, 2016 some structural changes have already happened. Some positions in the organization have been eliminated, new positions have been created, and responsibilities of certain departments have been modified.
For example, Jeannie Fields is now the Director of Special Projects. Please stand Ms. Fields. As this city goes through this crucial transitional growth period, we need people we can trust to lead that charge. Nate Ford please stand. Mr. Ford has been hired as the new Director of Economic Development. He will run point on the redevelopment of our commercial and residential districts. If you want to open or move a business to the city of Inkster contact him. No more will the attitude be in city hall that we operate in a certain manner just because that’s the way we have been doing it for years. We are making the necessary changes to do things the right way in order to efficiently provide services to our residents.
I have an announcement today that the City is going Green.
Of Course I will not go with them because I only “Go Blue”.
Our goal is to go virtually paperless and take advantage of the technology that is available to us. We had the opportunity to visit the city of Westland’s city hall two days ago and met with their Mayor, deputy mayor and IT Director. How Westland is using technology to enhance how they communicate with their residents is simply amazing. I thought I was on the Star Ship Enterprise. We are creating a technology strategic plan which includes the launch of IPAC TV, or Inkster Public Access Television. We will utilize our television station to not only broadcast our exciting city council meetings. We will develop original programing, Public Service Announcements, and event advertising. The future of our city will be televised.
It took me, Councilwoman Sandra Watley, and Mayor Pro Temp Timothy Williams almost a year but we were successful in getting the Romulus Community Schools board of education to return to us the real property that Inkster high school was located on. Those 10 acres of property will now be zoned M-1 or light industrial, and we hope to lure a major commercial development there that will bring tax revenue and jobs to the city of Inkster.
I have also made several contacts with the Taylor Public Schools and I am confident that they will be returning three large parcels of land that they own back to the city of Inkster. The land that housed Lincoln elementary, Fellrath Junior high school, and the park located next to the Simmons center. We envision new residential development on two of those parcels of land, and a renovated park area on the other.
We also went and requested from Wayne Westland Community Schools and Westwood schools to return the property that they were given through the dissolution of the Inkster public schools. Westland said they will give us an answer this summer, and Westwood has as of yet not responded. I have not forgotten about that beautiful elementary school building that we are still paying for, that was formerly called Baylor Woodson Elementary School on Carlyse and Middlebelt roads.
RESA currently owns that building and is taking advantage of the Inkster residents by letting another school district use it for free. No money from that lease is going towards the debt left by the Inkster Public Schools, and Inkster residents are still paying the bond notes on that building. This is an injustice. I have already asked RESA to give us our school back and they said no. The time is coming real soon that we have to stand up to RESA and the state, and demand our property back. If the answer remains no, it’s time to fight.
I have been your mayor for 14 months and during that time we have had 14 new businesses open in our city. Large scale economic development and growth has not happened in our city for a long time. Over the last decade we have had some new buildings built on Michigan Avenue that house nonprofits and/or state agencies, which offer services to our residents. We welcome those organizations who provide vital services to our citizens. Unfortunately, they provide no tax revenue to the city to help ease the tax burden for our residents. We are now aggressively courting for-profit businesses that will add to our city’s business tax base.
The city council will adopt our updated master plan within the next 60 days. Once completed we will send out a request for proposal for development of the old city hall area. Our vision is to have living space, retail shopping space, an athletic venue, and/or a farmers market, along with new restaurants in that area. We need people living and playing in our downtown area right between our two beautiful county parks, Inkster Park and Colonial Park. Part of that development will include an outdoor pavilion in Inkster Park so we can have summer music concerts and make our downtown a destination. The city has identified grant moneys to put new facades on the buildings in our downtown district. To make the district look more uniformed and modern. Right on Michigan Avenue in the 1st block west of Inkster road we have a cooperative market place for small businesses to sell their goods, opening by late spring of this year. It will be paired with additional office space and a new restaurant in that same block. The rebuilding of downtown into an artistic, walkable, livable area is essential to bringing a new synergy to the city.
The next major development will be the building of an entertainment district on Michigan Avenue where we will have bars, restaurants, coffee shops, sports activities, and other businesses all in one area. We envision people being able to go to one location and have a choice of various different businesses to patronize. We will make Inkster a destination stop for people who live and visit this western Wayne county region. The City of Inkster is Open for Business.
In our neighborhoods we will reverse the recent trend of just demolishing blighted homes which leaves us with vacant lots and destroys our residential tax base. We are creating a new real estate program for tax foreclosure homes, that the city has a right to claim back from Wayne county to get those properties renovated and in the hands of homeowners. People tend to keep up their homes and yards better when they actually own them. The city wins by getting those properties back on the tax rolls in a short period of time, while also ensuring the quality of work of the companies who purchase and renovate these homes. This will raise all of our property values and increase homeownership in our city.
In the last year, two new charter schools opened in the city of Inkster: Inkster Preparatory Academy led by Shawn Hurt. Currently, they have Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, and plan to expand by one additional grade every year. They are located on Woodfield and Inkster Road between Avondale and Cherry Hill roads.
American International Academy is led by Thomas White, an Inkster native. His elementary school is located on Henry Ruff just south of Cherry Hill on the Westland side of the street, and the middle school is located on Avondale and Inkster roads. I had an opportunity to tour this school and was very impressed with the creative learning environment that has been created for our children.
Next fall Pathways Global Leadership Academy will open on Parkwood just east of Henry Ruff in the building attached to Pentecostal Temple Church of God and Christ. That will be a K-12 school under the leadership of Zakia Gibson. Mrs. Gibson can you please stand. Mrs. Gibson is committed to bringing a high quality educational system to the city of Inkster. There is no doubt that she has our children’s best interest at heart.
We are also grateful to have our children serviced by the Westwood School District, Taylor Public Schools, Romulus Community Schools, and Wayne Westland Community Schools.
The seniors in our community are so busy that it would be impossible to list all of the activities that they have done over the last year. Every event that is held in this city has always been largely supported by our seniors they are the backbone, the heartbeat, and are conscious of this community. They certainly have no problem keeping me in line and making helpful suggestions/demands as to what they would like to see happen.
Our seniors are the people who come out regularly to city council meetings to make sure they hold us elected officials accountable. I know much of the motivation that I have to be diligent about getting things done to improve our community comes from the desire to make those who came before me proud to tell people they live in Inkster. Recently, I was told that the seniors were promised a senior citizen activity center some 15 years ago, and that I might want to make that happen. So I said Ok, like I had a real choice. It is now on my to-do list. We will be having a bake sale soon to fund the project.
Our vision is simply to rebuild our commercial and residential areas. To rebrand our city with all of the positive energy and change that reflects the new era that we are in. To continue to reshape our government, to improve the way we deliver services to our residents and businesses owners. This is what Change looks like. And as always, we have
POWER TO THE PEOPLEGOD BLESS YOU AND LETS CONTINUE TO HAVE A GREAT EVENING.