Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Year in Review (Warrendale Edition)

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick issued his version of "2006 in Review" earlier this month with a press release that I previously wrote about. In the spirit of the season, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on all that has happened to Warrendale, and the surrounding area, this year.

2006 unquestionably started off with a tremendous bang for all of Detroit as we hosted Super Bowl XL - with visitors pouring into our fair city from around the globe. Many of them (including the SBXL Champion Pittsburgh Steelers) stayed in hotels near the Warrendale neighborhood.

We even got our dose of Super Bowl fame as two reporters from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ventured into the Warrendale neighborhood and proclaimed their time at Steve's Three Brother's to be the greatest breakfast of their lives in a published article; thereby confirming what we've known for years.

Super Bowl XL proved to be an added bonus to Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood shortly after that when the former site of the Herman Gardens Housing Complex was named to be location of the NFL's Youth Education Town, which is the NFL's gift to each of the Super Bowl host cities.

The site, officially known as the NFL Youth Education Town - Boy's & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan on the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus, replaces what for years now has been little more than an empty lot with overgrown weeds. When it opens in this coming spring, it will be the largest such facility in the nation. I think it's a huge honor to have such a distinction in the Warrendale neighborhood.

Also, it was shortly after Warrendale was selected to host the new NFL center that we started to see new businesses open in the neighborhood. We lost La Hacienda Mexican Restaurante on W. Warren Avenue. Papa Joe's Family Restaurant & Buffet opened and then closed only a few months later.

Regardless, the Warrendale neighborhood has seen a net gain of more than a dozen new and renovated businesses in less than a year. That is impressive in any economic environment. However, when one considers that the overall economic climate in Michigan is less than desirable, a dozen new businesses in the past ten months is all that much more impressive.

This past May, we saw the Warrendale Community Organization team up with the Detroit Synergy Group to clean the Southfield Freeway Service Drive as part of the Mayor's Motor City Make Over. Scrap tires and bulk trash were cleared away. Brush was trimmed back so it no longer obstructed the sidewalk.

Also in May, we saw the Warrendale Community Organizaion apply for "Cool Cities" status through the State of Michigan, only to later learn that we didn't make the cut.

2006 was also the year that we saw a little known baseball team called the Detroit Tigers go from being the punch line in one joke after another to being contenders in the World Series, going farther in one season than anyone thought they possibly would.

Their journey to the World Series was one of those things that reminded everyone that miracles do happen and that every season of baseball is about life beginning anew.

On a more practical level, 2006 was also the year that we saw the Joy-Southfield CDC open a free health clinic in the Warrendale neighborhood, providing quality health care treatment for those who simply cannot afford to get it anywhere else.

2006 was also the year of the orange barrells as the Michigan Department of Transportation targeted the three bridges in Warrendale that cross the Southfield Freeway for replacement. The Warren Avenue, Tireman Road and Paul Street Bridges were all replaced this year during a construction project that, for a moment there, I thought would never really end.

The Warrendale Community Organ- ization conducted several environ- mental surveys during 2006, chronicling cases of illegal dumping and other ordinance violations. The results of those surveys were alway turned in to our Neighborhood City Hall and to the Northwestern District of the Detroit Police Department. Sometimes the City managed to followed-up on those reports. Other times, they didn't.

Last, but not least, 2006 was the year that Mayor Kilpatrick declared war on illegal dumping in Detroit. Since then, we have seen progress on combatting illegal dumping but there hasn't been as much done as there could have, or should have, been done.

The Mayor also targeted six neighborhoods for improvement this year. While it's still too early to tell if this strategy will bear fruit towards building the NEXT Detroit, the concept of it does look promising.

All of this leads me to conclude that 2006, on the whole, was a good year for the Warrendale neighborhood. For what it's worth, here's hoping that 2007 brings about even more for the neighborhood and those who call it home.
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