City Hall hopping with manager choice, mayor’s town hall meeting

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — Barely two months into her tenure, Mayor Patricia Diaz Krause can check off — and add to — her ‘to do’ list after identifying a new city manager and listening to residents at Monday’s town hall meeting.

Replacing Steve Duchane as the city’s full-time administrator has been a lingering question since he resigned in September, an issue debated among City Council members and during the November election. After conducting candidate interviews last month, the position was offered to Center Line City Manager John Michrina, who accepted pending contract negotiations.

Michrina was a longtime Monroe police officer who served as police chief and city manager there before accepting the Center Line job, where he also served as acting public safety officer.

Along with his lengthy public service, Diaz Krause said what may have clinched the offer was Michrina’s commitment to a community.

“The one thing the majority of the council seemed to be impressed with was that he said he’d move here,” Diaz Krause said.

Although some on Council questioned the need for a full-time administrator, Diaz Krause said the position is critical to municipal operations. She hopes that Michrina will supervise day-to-day operations at City Hall, and will also be aware of broader issues that could positively impact Lincoln Park.

“I want that person to be abreast of things in Lansing and Washington that affect us,” Diaz Krause said. “To be truly effective and keep the city in the game, they need to know what’s going on with grant opportunities or shared services.”

Bringing in a fresh perspective was a key element in Monday’s town hall meeting, held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 552. Dozens of residents — nearly 100 by some counts — participated in a three-hour session of discussion, ideas and public comment.

Diaz Krause opened the event, one promised during her mayoral campaign, with a semi-State of the City review of Lincoln Park’s current standing. As with many Downriver communities, declining revenues struggle to keep pace with expenses, and city services ranked among the top areas of resident concern. A recycling program, road improvements, park maintenance and other issues were raised by residents.

“I always ask people, ‘What is your solution? What are you willing to do to help?’ We ended up getting people to volunteer for various efforts.”

What’s on the minds of residents may not always be what elected officials assume, and along with the anticipated inquiries about preventing the floods of last summer from returning this year, Diaz Krause said that people asked about quality of life subjects including restarting a garden club, bringing back the Memorial Day parade and strengthening the city’s property maintenance ordinance.

“I saw spirit, and pride, and people coming together,’ Diaz Krause said.

Diaz Krause said she hopes to have the city manager on staff by the end of February, and would like to see town hall meetings held several times a year.