As I look forward to the upcoming year and what remains to be done, I believe that the level of success we managed to achieve throughout 2018 proves we have the ability to convert our challenges into achievements. While we were not able to accomplish everything we wanted, Wayne County has made significant strides in the right direction.
I am grateful to the voters of Wayne County who in November gave me their confidence and trust to serve them for another four years. If we stay the course of recovery and rebuilding that we set during my first term, then I believe we will experience continued success putting us on track to thrive, not simply survive.
Here is some of what we accomplished in 2018:
- Striking a deal with Rock Ventures to build the County a new state-of-the-art criminal justice center to meet one of the County’s most pressing infrastructure needs. The new facility will infuse that area with a $533 million development that would not otherwise have existed. With about 1,500 people visiting the center each week day, there will surely be other spin-off development. Businesses will be needed to serve the police, prosecutors, judges, jurors, visitors and all County staff who will frequent the criminal justice campus.
- The old eyesore at Gratiot was largely demolished and will become a mixed use development that could reach upwards of $1 billion in investment at a location many consider the gateway to Detroit. It will finally connect downtown to Eastern Market and serve as the catalyst for other projects and much needed investment.
- Completing the sale of the former McLouth Steel Plant in Trenton, a step toward removing another one of our most infamous eyesores and putting the site on the path to productive use. This new chapter includes a development agreement with Crown Enterprises that promises $20 million of minimum investment, local hiring for the people to do the work of tearing down McLouth and the ensuing redevelopment.
- Although our attempt to get the regional transit millage on the November ballot failed, our commitment to this issue has moved the conversation forward in a metro area that desperately needs it. Mobility, of which public transit is a key component, is critical to quality of life by creating access to education, jobs, health care and is a prerequisite for effective talent and business attraction. I plan to continue raising this issue not only throughout 2019 but for as long as it takes to get it done.
Additional issues that will be key to our growth and success as a County moving forward: promoting the importance of diversity and inclusion, finding strategic solutions for fixing our roads, and enhancing our parks through placemaking.
Wayne County is the most diverse county in Michigan and it plays a critical role in what makes our County so great. Wayne United is an initiative we started building out this year that joins government in partnership with civic and business leaders to nurture the values of diversity and inclusion in our 43 communities. In the upcoming year, you’ll see us doing more to promote the societal and economic impact of diversity and inclusion through Wayne United, which is particularly important given the national tone set by the White House.
When it comes to infrastructure issues, we need adequate funding for the construction, maintenance and rebuilding of our County roads and bridges. In 2019, we will create a 10-year infrastructure asset management plan, which will provide a strategic framework for more effectively managing and assessing our roads and bridges. It will tell us how much it would cost to bring our infrastructure up to good condition, and keep it that way. While we expect that price tag to be steep and well beyond current funding levels, at least we’ll be better positioned to get more out of the funding we do have.
Also, in partnership with local communities and other key stakeholders, Wayne County is exploring opportunities to invest in place-based development opportunities that will better connect the County parks with surrounding communities and state and local parks to create a more cohesive County. Our team is exploring doing more around Hines Park that focuses on activation, recreation and connectivity and culture around historic mills that will ultimately lead to increased activity and access to our parks.
If we are able to maintain this momentum throughout 2019, I am excited about what we will be able to accomplish for Wayne County. This is what public service is all about.