By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – City Council unanimously approved Aug. 16 enabling the city to enter into an agreement that would improve security and safety in Heritage Park.
Police Chief Mary Sclabassi is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding between the city and Wayne County Community College Downriver District Campus police, expanding the campus police’s jurisdiction throughout Heritage Park, west of the campus.
Mayor Rick Sollars and WCCCD Downriver Campus President Anthony Arminiak approved the agreement along with WCCCD Chancellor Curtis Ivery, law enforcement officials from Taylor and the college, who met earlier this summer to lay out a plan on how the college could better support Taylor police in Heritage Park.
Sclabassi said the arrangement is a partnership between the city and the college, and that WCCCD is willing to expand its patrol perimeters to include the park, especially during nighttime and weekend hours. The campus police department upgraded its licensing to enable its officers to patrol a mile outside the campus.
Sclabassi said the Taylor-WCCCD plan is much like the relationship that Wayne State University police has with the city of Detroit, and that Taylor police and campus security can work well together.
Improved security at Heritage Park fits right into the many facility-related improvements going on at the park:
• New seawall around Coan Lake.
• New splash pad has been open for its first summer season.
• Improvements continue inside and around the Sheridan Center and other pavilions.
• Two fountains are up and running at Coan Lake, with a third on the way.
• All new signage is planned.
• The Coan Lake dock has been power washed, boards replaced and it will be stained.
• The bridge is being power washed and repainted.
• Work is underway to restart the waterwheel and install lighting on it
• Walking paths, fences and parking lots are being renovated.
• Fencing has been added to the new inline hockey rink.
• Basketball rims will be relocated to the Sheridan Center parking lot.
• Landscaping redone and new trees installed throughout the park.
Sollars is happy with the security partnership.
“It is a great opportunity for Taylor to receive law enforcement support and coverage from WCCCD, at no cost to the city,” he said. “Our police have a lot of territory to cover in our community. Having WCCCD patrols come through Heritage Park on a regular basis helps insure the safety of our residents and the facilities and properties at the park. This fits into the greater vision that we both have for that particular area.”
That “greater vision” again goes back to the original discussions between Sollars and Arminiak. It focuses on WCCCD and the city creating a “cultural corridor” that would be anchored by the college and the park, including organizations that are either located directly in the area of Northline and Pardee, or groups that use the area on a regular basis.
WCCCD already has announced plans to plan a new $15 million horticultural center on its Downriver campus by 2018, likely between the current campus and Heritage Park.
The cultural corridor would include the area between the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber offices on Northline Road, just to the east of WCCCD, west to the intersection of Pardee, and then north through the Sheridan Center Open Air Pavilion.
“The cultural corridor would create an organization with joint brand and marketing opportunities, and bring together groups that could support each other,” Sollars said. “We could create signage along the corridor, promote and discuss mutual concerns and goals, and have a joint online presence.”
The city and the college are working behind the scenes to create the corridor. In addition to organizations like WCCCD, the chamber of commerce and the city, other groups that they plan to contact include Taylor Soccer, Taylor South Little League (and possibly the other three Little Leagues in the city), Junior League World Series, Farmer’s Market, cycling clubs, library, Historical Society, Ecology Club, Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, Petting Farm, Goodwill Gardens, Enchanted Makeovers, Prechter Educational & Performing Arts Center, Healthy Taylor, Taylor School District, Taylor Dance and Taylor Relay for Life.
More updates on both the WCCCD-Taylor security plan and the “Cultural Corridor” will be announced on www.cityoftaylor.com.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)