Heights City Council reviews, approves funding to develop Van Born Corridor plan

HEIGHTS – The City Council approved Mayor Dan Paletko’s request to support and fund the creation of a framework plan that will serve as a guide for a joint Dearborn Heights-Taylor infrastructure/streetscape improvement initiative along Van Born Road.

Paletko and Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars, along with other city officials and representatives from Wade Trim have been discussing their mutual interests in making significant improvements to the Van Born Corridor since it was confirmed Ford Motor Co. was interested in occupying the recently vacated Masco Headquarters and K-Mart buildings on a long-term basis.

The proposed plan will be developed by Wade Trim, which serves as civil engineering contractor for both cities. The total cost of the plan is $112,000, which will be split equally between the two cities.

Since Wade Trim provides engineering service to both communities, it was agreed that the firm should develop the plan.

The plan will address improvements along Van Born Road from Inkster Road to Pelham Road. It will address three major topical areas:

• The definition of issues and opportunities for multi-modal transportation to address the combined needs of business, commercial services and retail facilities – as well as identifying existing and potential businesses and services that could come into the area that would serve the increased business and professional population of the area with the relocation of potentially several thousand Ford employees.

• Development of a menu of streetscape recommendations that would unite and “blend” the two communities – making the improvements accessible to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

• Development of a conceptual vision of the improved street environment that would result in a safer, more functional and more aesthetically appealing environment for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other transit users and vehicles.

Specific elements included in Wade Trim’s role in this process will be to prepare base mapping and consolidate the necessary documentation, including compiling maps, data collection and the providing of opinions on the corridor’s existing condition – as well as providing information on potential opportunities for improvement.

In addition, Wade Trim’s assessment will also look at existing deficiencies in the area, and provide recommendations for improvements that will encourage even further redevelopment of corridor and adjacent blocks.

All parties agreed this initiative will need the continuous and open communication with all stakeholders, including business owners, area employees and area residents. This will be accomplished through a series of public meetings and forums that will take place throughout the life of the planning process.

“We anticipate this will serve as a real boost for both communities,” Paletko said. “We are confident this expansion will serve as the seed for a real economic and social growth on both sides of Van Born Road.

“During discussions with Wade Trim, however, I have stressed it is critical to have input from businesses, residential owners, and elected officials in order to make this corridor plan successful. By working with our neighbors, the city of Taylor, we can use the addition of Ford Motor Co. to the Van Born corridor as a stimulus to make this an attractive and economically vibrant area. This truly is a ‘win-win’ arrangement for all involved.”