Dearborn, Dearborn Heights mayors look ahead to 2017, recap 2016 progress

Photo by Zeinab Najm Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce President Jackie Lovejoy (left) watches as Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. answers a question presented to him and Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko during the Tale of Our Cities luncheon Jan. 10.

Photo by Zeinab Najm
Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce President Jackie Lovejoy (left) watches as Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. answers a question presented to him and Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko during the Tale of Our Cities luncheon Jan. 10.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko gathered to speak about the progress of their respective cities in 2016 at Dearborn Hills Golf Course on Jan. 10.

O’Reilly spoke first at the annual Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce Tale of Our Cities luncheon, highlighting the new Ford Motor Co. $1.2 billion redevelopment, east Dearborn parking lots construction and Dix and Warren corridor authorities.

“Ford has always been a driver in the community with the property they had already acquired or property acquired by Henry Ford,” he said. “This new reinvestment is a major commitment that we in Dearborn have to be thankful for.”

Parking lots in east Dearborn will be repaved, become more assessable and customer friendly when completed.

Business owners in the Dix and Warren corridor authorities have formed boards allowing them to make their own decisions internally.

O’Reilly also said that he and the city council are looking at long-term transformative investments because there is current revenue to leverage.

Paletko’s speech focused on current and future business development, retail opportunities and combing Ordinance and Animal Control divisions.

“There is a very vibrant business development on Ford Road between Inkster and Beech Daly and upcoming project proposals for Warren Avenue,” he said. “The financial future is very bright.”

The city’s Ordinance Division increased its personnel to merge with Animal Control department and have a model for other cities in the state in 2016.

Paletko touched on the revolution in retail and the major consequences on communities that don’t learn to adapt.

“Its great to have businesses making Dearborn Heights their home and embracing the diversity,” he said. “We are about 95 percent developed with small businesses and Kroger in the city, but there are possible upcoming national restaurant and retail opportunities coming on Ford Road.”

The audience was able to ask questions following the mayors’ presentations, and topics included the combined dispatch center, President-elect Donald Trump and Ford development on Michigan Avenue.

O’Reilly said the dispatch center is currently between Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and Melvindale with Garden City, Inkster, Wayne and Westland possibly joining.

“The first joint dispatch center in Michigan was set up five years ago,” he said. “It’s the way of the future and other areas have successfully created their centers. Criminals have no boundaries and neither should our dispatch center.”

“Communities have to work together to succeed,” Paletko said. “It will be nice to have Dearborn on the 800 megahertz radio system. We’ve agreed to study with Dearborn for the dispatch center because whether it happens now or later, consolidated dispatch is coming.”

A question was raised to O’Reilly about the current Ford development on Michigan Avenue in west Dearborn to keep a classic look.

“The designer is trying to give harmony with different colors, shapes, sizes and textures to the buildings,” he said. “They will look like individual buildings instead of one big building. When completed it will serve as a prime public gathering to draw people together.”

Both mayors said that the future under President-elect Donald Trump is unknown, but “we have to give him a chance,” Paletko said.

“He’s going to have to learn and understand how the legislature works to make decisions together,” O’Reilly said.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)