EXCELLENT CITY SERVICES
At its core, our city government needs to provide excellent city services at an affordable cost. We need to ensure that our infrastructure is up to date, our budget is balanced, and service delivery remains efficient. We have a responsibility to maintain access to greenspace as well as provide quality park services that allow members of our community to enjoy Milan’s natural beauty year-round. As part of a plan to grow Milan into the future, we have to make sure that all roads and sidewalks are safe and well-maintained, especially leading into our downtown corridor so that residents, businesses, and visitors alike can take advantage of all our city has to offer. Finally, providing basic city services-- trash, recycling, police, and fire services-- is not one of the headline-grabbing functions of council, but it is important, so let’s do it and do it right.
Milan is a friendly, safe place to live—a great place to raise a family. One of the best parts about our community is the “service” ethic that causes scores of Milan residents to find ways to serve their neighbors—as coaches, as staff for community events, as volunteers for the fire department, and more. We also have an exceptional police force with a history of fine leadership—focused on serving the community as much as “policing” it. One of my top priorities on Council would be to emphasize this sense of togetherness that binds Milan residents to one another, even as we look for ways to grow the community into the future.
Building a stronger community also means promoting diversity. This can take several forms, whether through hosting cultural events that reflect the many unique backgrounds of Milan residents or through ensuring that city government does not fall into the trap of group think. As a city, we need to include people of all different backgrounds and mindsets in the decision-making process, and we need to make sure that diverse perspectives are always valued—be that in government or in everyday life. I think that I can add to the discussion—and that I can remain quiet when I have nothing to contribute that has not already been said.
A STRONGER COMMUNITY
As I’m sure all residents are aware, roads are a constant struggle for most Michigan communities. Systematic replacement of roads and a regular program of maintenance is important. Milan is updating such a plan now, and on City Council, I will work to make sure that we are doing everything we can to provide residents with safe, quality road infrastructure.
Underneath or near the roads (and often repaired in tandem with roads) are our water lines. Many water lines are aging and becoming less reliable. The Milan water plant needs significant renovation. There are lead lines in Milan that need to be replaced. These are essential issues that will come before council in the coming years and should be prioritized.
In the face of needing improvements for other infrastructure like roads and water treatment, we can’t forget about sidewalks. I do a lot of walking here in Milan. I can tell you that there are many sidewalks in excellent condition and other places where those sidewalks are badly deteriorated. I have a very personal perspective on those sidewalks. Twice I have gone down on the sidewalks here. Once, it was weather related and I was hospitalized. The other time, I was quite bloodied, and it simply took a trip to Urgent Care for stitches. What does that show? Well, for one thing…I am sort of a clutz! But beyond that, I think we need to have a systematic program for reviewing the sidewalks neighborhood by neighborhood and assuring that they are a safe place for both young children and old folks like me to use. Pedestrian safety and accessibility will be an important part of Milan’s growth, especially as we look to further improve downtown.
There are two major obstacles to think about as we move Milan forward: affordable housing and accessible transportation. Simply put, we need more housing. Between 2000 and 2010 our community grew by about 1200 residents. Between 2010 and 2020 we grew by about 250 residents. Milan is a very desirable place to live, and we need to focus on building new housing so that people of all walks of life can enjoy what our community has to offer. Increasing the housing stock will ensure housing affordability while also providing current homeowners and residents with a more vibrant city—thereby making their own homes more valuable in the process. I don't have all the answers, but I have some ideas and I will work with others to search for more good answers!
One asset that we have is that many people in the building trades call Milan their home. We need to identify potential building sites and encourage quality builders to build homes in Milan. We can do this by prioritizing continued investment in Milan’s downtown and residential neighborhood growth, working to ensure that development fits the character of our community, and ensuring that we show prospective residents what our city has to offer.
Alongside increasing housing affordability, we need to improve transportation accessibility. Many young adults and older residents of Milan are limited by their access to transportation. It is important for Milan to explore ways to connect to the public transit systems in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
Several years ago there was a plan to provide public transit to most of the county, but it was a poorly designed plan that taxed everyone in the county for years before services were provided in communities like Milan. I think it is time to work with the county to develop a plan that serves our community and allows those unable to drive a connection to Milan….and the residents of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti a connection to us.
HOUSING & TRANSPORTATION
Growth is important to any city like Milan, providing job opportunities, spreading out city operating costs over a greater number of people, and creating a more vibrant place to live, work, and play. While we encourage growth, we need to protect our city’s most important asset: the friendly and family-oriented culture of our community. That is what makes Milan such a special place to live. I believe that with the right ideas, we can do both at the same time.
The first step to achieving responsible growth is through supporting downtown development. Milan's downtown is one of its treasures, and we need to treat it like the important part of our community that it is. Most buildings range from 125 to 175 years old. The area has been a Federal Historic District for 25 years, but has often struggled to attract businesses and visitors. The efforts of a LOT of people have changed the direction of our downtown, but we need to keep working at making the heart of our community a healthier and healthier place!
Do you know that there have been SIX MAJOR renovation projects going on in downtown Milan this year? That’s unheard of for a town the size of Milan! We should continue to support this growth through pursuing Michigan’s Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) program, which supports cities in achieving their development goals. With the help of the RRC program, Milan would receive assistance from the state on how to achieve growth without compromising what makes our community special.
I am proud to have had a role in the renovation of Milan through my work on building restoration and with Milan Main Street and Moving Milan Forward, but the return of a vibrant downtown has been the result of the commitment of many, many people. I look forward to leveraging these relationships as we continue to promote a resilient and thriving downtown Milan.
In addition to supporting economic development projects that rejuvenate downtown, we can also take steps to beautify our community without the use of tax dollars or incentives. One such way is to install public art throughout accessible areas in our community. We have done some of that through the historic photos that have been painted and posted in Wilson Park of the old bridge and the approach to downtown Milan. There are also the historic wall ads that have been restored downtown. While simple, public art initiatives make a lasting impression on visitors that Milan is a destination worth investing in and give residents a sense of community and pride.