Sunday, October 23, 2011

Livonia 2021

Livonia 2021
Imagine this Livonia 10 years from now…

Friends and neighbors are gathering in Livonia Town Center Square, nestled on the southeast corner of 5 mile and Farmington for a concert event on the solar powered GE outdoor stage celebrating the 50th year of live performing for Steve King and The Dittilies.

Many of the concertgoers will be coming from the new restaurants and merchant shops that ring the town center. Others will have hitched a ride on the electric and hydrogen fuel busses that are such a common sight around the designated “greenest city” in Wayne County. Still others have walked from the reduced foot print, elevator parking structure that now stands where the dilapidated school administration building once stood. Some have chosen simply to ride their bicycles, utilizing the city-wide bike trail system that began with the first trail along Hubbard road between 5 & 6 mile the very first year King was elected to city council. You may remember it was the same year the city launched its “I Lost Ten” health initiative, challenging Livonia residents to shed a combined 1 million pounds in one year’s time – an effort that brought first lady Michelle Obama to our city and put Livonia in the national spotlight.

The many artisans that are in attendance for the concert have walked from the lofts where they live above their shops on the East side of Town Center Square. It is this corridor of the square that was built expressly for the many talented artists in the region, and has been growing steadily as more craftsmen migrate to the city because of its thriving art culture. Their presence has been an economic boon for the city, in fact, the recent annual Town Center art show just experienced record attendance, bringing more than 50 thousand attendees to the Square over the weekend. Merchants and artists alike are happy and proud to be a part of Livonia’s revitalization that has resulted from the creation of this central gathering place several years ago. They welcome the many visitors from surrounding communities and work hard to promote the ongoing happenings in the Square.

In the center of the Square, scores of soccer players are relaxing with their families. In town from all over the State, they are between games playing in the Annual Livonia tournament being held at the indoor soccer fields at the sportsplex at 7 mile and Middlebelt. They have come for refreshments and the athletes are relaxing on the edge of the fountain that forms the Square’s focal point. They turn towards the upward stream of water welcoming the very light mist of water on their flush smiling faces.

Because all of Livonia has free citywide high speed wi-fi some Livonians will stay home and watch the fun being streamed to their own iPad 7 ( the model with 3D holographic display ) or on an iPad that is available from the library on loan to everybody with a library card.

As usual, many seasoned citizens are in the audience for they comprise the majority of the fan base for the still popular band. One long time female fan is heard to comment “We no longer call ourselves groupies, were droopies.” All around share a good laugh and spirits run high.

These folks are representative of the Livonia senior community at large, which is thrilled with their new home at the very expansive, refurbished Dickinson Senior center on Newberg road. Now they start their day walking the mall across the street before heading over to the center for lunch. Some of the food items they will be eating are harvested from the on site green house that is managed for a profit, by the garden clubs and local foodies that lease plots year round. The seniors, even larger in numbers now living in the city, overwhelmingly approved of the land swap that helped make Town Center Square spring to life.

And new life is exactly what Town Center Square has brought to a once stagnant Livonia that was caught resting on its laurels, suffering from “analysis paralysis”- lots of talk, no action- that afflicts so many municipalities.

Because of the changes brought about by the focus on community that town center planners were careful to cultivate, new young families have moved to the city in record numbers. So many in fact the new Bill Gates, Science and Technology school built at the former Bryant School site on Six Mile Road has a long waiting list to attend. It is just one of the new LEED ( leader in energy efficient design) certified buildings that are sited throughout the city. It actually sells power back to the grid, along with tens of thousands of homes covered with thin solar panels manufactured right here in Livonia at the old GM plant on Schoolcraft Road. The installation and servicing of the panels on residential rooftops was all financed by Google, with a lease structure similar to how we used to pay for our old land lines. There was no up front cost to the homeowners, and Livonia companies install and service the panels along with Livonia Public Schools Career Center students, as part of an internship program.

The crowd is really getting into the band now and it’s hard to believe that King can still hit those notes. He needs to be careful-- his band is performing next week at the PRDA “Cars are the Stars” cruise on Plymouth road taking place all next week. It is the only sanctioned car cruise in the State, and Wednesday night is cars from the 70’s only. You can already smell the burning rubber.

Steve King

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Addressing Basement Flooding with Education, Retention & Insurance

Addressing Basement Flooding with Education, Retention & Insurance

I have attended every public forum afforded me during my run for Council. Unfortunately the forums are structured in such a way to allow for 60 second responses to often complex issues. The following is a more detailed response to the question of the basement sewer backups that affected so many of our neighbors. Events such as the flooding were devastating but also provide an opportunity to educate the public on flood risks, and how to minimize them through the use of sewer back flow valves and sump pumps.

What the city can do: Prepare a map showing relative risk for basement flooding, so residents can determine their own course of action based on their level of risk. Offer local businesses space at city hall to provide information on those products.

Water backs up into basements because the amount of water entering the storm system is greater than the system can move. This water can be managed by mandating low flow gratings on storm drains. This affects the speed at which water enters the system allowing more time for the system to purge. The downside is additional street and parking lot standing water, but water on the pavement beats water in the basement.

What the city can do: Install these grates in higher risk areas. If already installed, monitor them to make sure that they are kept free of debris to help keep standing water to a minimum.

Flood insurance does not cover water coming up from the drain, nor does standard homeowners insurance. However, some companies offer a sewer and drain endorsement that does. Coverage can be expensive, in excess of $5.000, but losses can be far greater than that.

What the city can do: Research which companies offer this insurance and the cost for an average household. Provide this information to the public via the city’s website and the Livonia Observer. Hold a flood “open house” and offer those companies the opportunity to show residents the policies they have to offer.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Livonia Observer: Voting records, cutting waste discussed at council forum

Eight candidates for City Council highlighted their voting records as well as how they would work with their council colleagues and cut waste from the budget in a candidate forum sponsored Thursday night by the Livonia Chamber of Commerce at City Hall. ...

King said he will listen, learn and lead. He also read a quote taken from a Chinese proverb to reflect his philosophy on the council.

“A man who asks a question is a fool for a minute; the man who asks no questions is a fool forever,” he said. ...

Candidates were also asked about cutting waste in the budget.

King said he didn't look at studying the budget as cutting waste, but more of what he called a “more effective use of resources.” He thought the city should look at car usage. 

King questioned the purchase and installation of a new boiler in the old courthouse. “I thought we built a new courthouse because the old one was so bad,” he said. “And here we are, putting money into the court.” [more]