The priorities came from information gleaned from the annual community visioning process highlighted by a Nov. 13 meeting with the public and an online survey, township department heads meeting Oct. 29 and a Nov. 6 Board of Trustees work session.
Tabulation giving all three groups equal weight saw addressing “Community Center Needs” at the 41-Distrct Court, the Shelby Township Library, the Shelby Township Senior Center and Shelby TV as the township’s top priority.
“We crossed our top priority for the previous year off our list in 2014 when the Board and the police and fire unions reformed and funded our police and fire pension funds,” Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said. “And it’s no surprise that last year’s No. 2 issue moved up to the top of the list this year.
“Our Board continues to examine this issue from all angles, and we are confident we will find a resolution that serves all parties involved in the most cost-effective manner possible. As with any issue we need to serve our taxpayers, but we also need to keep costs to a minimum while doing so.”
While community center needs topped the list, a new initiative came in at No. 2 with all three parties throwing support behind plans to widen Schoenherr Road north of 23 Mile Road.
“This is a great initiative for our Township for a number of reasons,” Stathakis said. “I think it tells us that our residents understand that necessary sacrifice we need to make in funding and convenience to invest in our improved roads. Despite living through an unprecedented summer of increased road work, they are still committing to a major project like widening Schoenherr Road for the betterment of our community.”
More road investment was third among the overall top-10 priorities represented by “fund local road improvements.” Investigate new revenue sources, sidewalk construction and maintenance, reduce operational costs, Stony Creek Trail bridge replacement, implement economic development initiative, 23 Mile and Mound Roads redevelopment, and emergency management training rounded out the remaining priorities.
In addition to the traditional priorities, this year’s online survey allowed residents an opportunity to pinpoint concerns and leave specific comments about areas of need for a more personalized view of their input.
“While these comments are not easily quantifiable, it does appear there may be strong support for revising ordinances to restrict oil wells, oil and gas pipelines, heavy trucks and incentives to redevelop existing commercial properties,” said John Kaczor of Municipal analytics, who compiled all facets of the visioning process to form the priorities.
The priorities are a part of the Board of Trustees continued efforts to have government in Shelby Township be more participatory, and Stathakis hopes that the township can continue to make better use of its website and social media tools to make it easier for residents to submit priorities for 2016 and beyond.
“When I got into this, Township government wasn’t participatory enough for me, and this is what this is about,” Stathakis said of the priorities. “Residents can tell us how they want their money spent and now they can tell us, with pinpoint accuracy, where they believe that money should be spent”