Planner to tackle city development, for $1

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — More than 400 acres are waiting to be developed, and part of the solution may cost only $1.

The city council Monday confirmed the all-but volunteer service of city planner Benjamin Tallerico as economic development director, a position short on compensation — Tallerico agreed to an annual salary of $1 — but broad in scope.

City Administrator Jim Wagner said that he began discussions about the city’s needs several months ago with Tallerico, who currently serves as planning consultant, teaches urban development at Wayne State University and is a senior consultant with Ann Arbor planning firm Beckett & Raeder.

“We probably have 400-plus acres of vacant industrial and commercial property,” Wagner said, citing the 276-acre Detroit Steel property, the old Michigan Foundation land at Sibley and Jefferson and Riverside Hospital among others.

“The life blood of a community is its tax base and development,” Wagner said. “We’re under utilizing those, and economic development is the key for better services.”

Trenton struggled in recent years to maintain the level of services residents expected when city staff fell from more than 200 to its current 130.

Wagner and Mayor Kyle Stack made a priority of certain projects, and Tallerico’s expertise fit the bill, especially after he volunteered to serve the city for nominal compensation.

“It’s basically a win-win for the city of Trenton,” Wagner said, and that the longtime planner can take a project and see it through to realization. Among the top priorities, Wagner said, will be sorting out the requirements to revitalize Riverside Hospital.