City Manager Michael Young

Planning Commission asks public for input on development

March 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

The Rockford Planning Commission will be holding a public open house on Thursday, March 17, between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. at the Rockford City Hall. The purpose of the open house will be to review and discuss proposed amendments to the City’s Land Use Master Plan for an identified subarea. The subarea includes that part of the City from the Wolverine World Wide tannery property east to Northland Drive. The plan update will focus on proposed future land uses for this subarea including public and private development. Once approved, the Master Plan update will become part of the City’s comprehensive Master Plan and will serve as a guide for the Planning Commission and City Council when making development decisions. This will be a true open house style meeting where residents and interested parties can come and go as they wish and discuss the proposed amendments with Planning Commissioners, City staff and consultants. City Manager Michael Young and consultants from LSL Planning will be making initial presentations at the beginning of the open house at 6 p.m., and then repeated at 7 p.m. A copy of the draft plan amendment will be available on the City’s website prior to the open house. For further information or questions regarding this meeting, please contact City Manager Michael Young at (616) 866-1537 or at

State recognition just latest in long line of policing progress

October 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

Solving parks/property destruction the result of problem-solving efforts “It was Rockford’s shining night,” Police Chief Dave Jones described the evening ceremonies on Tuesday, October 10, when the entire Rockford Police Department earned the distinction of being the Outstanding Unit of all the members of the Crime Prevention Association of Michgan.   Jones made the bold move of nominating the entire department for the honor that usually goes to a committee or group of officers whose duties are dedicated to community policing. With 13 officers, Jones said every officer in the department is trained in and implements community policing practices on a daily basis. He said community policing goes beyond outreach programs such as D.A.R.E and National Nite Out and said problem solving policing is at the core of community policing practices. If you feel safe in our local parks lately, thank community policing. Jones described a four-prong model of problem-solving his department implemented over the course of years to curb increasing vandalism incidents Rockford faced a few years ago. With the acronym SARA, for Scan, Analyze, Respond and Assess, the long-term result are a good example of community policing in action. Not long ago, there was a chronic problem in downtown with youth incidents of destruction and even harassment. The Ten Mile Bridge overpass was awash in graffiti. A toilet in the Welcome Center was blown up. Welcome signs to the City were repeatedly destroyed. Picnic tables, gazebos and benches were being damaged repeatedly. “It got to the point people didn’t feel safe in our parks, particularly the fitness trail to the west of Richardson-Sowerby Park,” Jones said. He said that area had become a congregating area for drug use and dealing, profanity. “We all know kids will be kids, but when people didn’t feel safe, we felt it was time to take action.” Jones said fighting the escalating vandalism wasn’t a quick-fix and started with a grant that allowed the department to install cameras for areas where vandalism was occurring. He then set aside some of his part-time budget to hire officers who were dedicated to park patrol during the summer. Rockford’s Department of Public Service was also enlisted. “As soon as an incident took place, they cleaned it up,” Jones stated. “If they […]

Nonprofits invited to throw in proposal for former court building

October 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

The City of Rockford will take proposals for a public use for the former 63rd District Court building, which is located across the parking lot from City Hall in downtown Rockford. “The county would like to have some sort of public use,” said City Manager Michael Young. “If it’s used for commercial, they want to split the rent.” The discussion at Rockford City Council’s regular board meeting on Monday, Oct. 11 was a step toward a new use for the court building after a long legal battle to bring full court services back to Rockford. According to Young, the Rockford Area Historical Society Building Committee is interested in the location as home to the society, currently located in the former Power building at the dam. “The full board is very interested in that becoming their new museum,” Young said. He noted that at one time the museum was looking at a substantial expansion at their current location, including adding water and restrooms, which are not now available in the structure. Currently volunteers walk over to use the public restroom at the Welcome Center. “Now would be a good time to entertain proposals for public or nonprofit use or if there is a need the City of Rockford has,” Young said to the council members. He said the building would double the amount of space the Historical Society has, is handicapped accessible, and has better security than the current facilities. Council member and Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Jazwiec asked if the building was also large enough to house the Rockford Area Arts Commission (RAAC) along with the Historical Society. “Both organizations don’t believe it is large enough,” Young said. He noted that the Arts Commission is hoping to find a facility where performances could be held, and added that there are offices available along the west wall of the building and one could be used for an office for the RAAC. Councilwoman Mary Eadie suggested giving area nonprofit organizations until the end of the year to provide the City with proposals for use of the building. Rockford City Hall is located at 7 S. Monroe, Rockford, MI 49341. Also on the evening’s agenda was an audit report from Peter Heafner of Vredeveld and Heafner, who annually audit […]

Rescue Practice Trains for Worst-Case Scenarios

February 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

Donation of home allows firefighters to prepare by BETH ALTENA The loss of a Main Street home is the gain of a valuable resource in practice that local firefighters hope they will never need to use. Rockford City Council voted in January to accept a quit-claim deed for the unoccupied home at 138 North Main Street owned by Pederson Funeral Home. The home is currently deeded to the city and is being used by the Rockford Fire Department, other fire departments and local law enforcement agencies for valuable training. The temporary change of ownership is for liability reasons and the structure will be deeded back to the owner when demolition is scheduled. According to Rockford Fire Chief Mike Reus, the use of the property allows the department an opportunity for priceless training that could save a life. “The fire department is running in when everyone else is running out,” he stated. Firefighters, although trained in a vast variety of practices and skills, are traditionally the ones offering, rather than receiving assistance. “When one of us runs into trouble, it’s hard to ask for help,” Reus said. The first practice in the home took place on Wednesday, January 28 with a “Mayday” scenario to build skills in what to do when things go wrong. The firemen faced a variety of scenarios in the unheated, unlighted home. Working from three stations one at a time, they practiced procedure for collapse of a ceiling, becoming trapped in a room and becoming tangled in debris. In each case firefighters had to gauge how long to try to free themselves before calling for help. According to Reus, this is a vital distinction and one of the harder concepts to realize in a dangerous situation, Firefighters carry in Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with 30 minutes of air. If a rescue worker becomes panicked and starts to breath heavily, the air is used much more quickly. “The clock starts ticking at the door before they go in,” Reus notes. If a disaster happens after 15 minutes in a structure, a rescue needs to start quickly in order to get the trapped or injured firefighter out before the last 15 minutes worth of air is gone. According to Reus, the techniques and […]

Tannery Closure/Rate Implications Addressed

February 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

by MICHAEL YOUNG, Rockford City Manager Since Wolverine World Wide’s (WWW) recent announcement that it is closing its downtown tannery facility, the City of Rockford has been working to identify all of the issues related to this decision and its ultimate impact on our residents and ratepayers. As you can imagine, the issues are numerous and complex and include analyzing financial implications on the sewer fund, an analysis of lost tax revenue, engineering issues related to the decommissioning of the treatment plant, and planning and zoning issues related to the eventual redevelopment of the tannery property. We have stayed in very close communication with WWW and are working to identify a time frame to address all of these issues. As I have interacted with residents and ratepayers, I have been comforted but not surprised by the community’s response to this announcement. Rockford has always been an example of a community that pulls together during tough times to work toward a positive solution. Thank you to those who have taken the time to provide your support and input. I have also received a handful of questions regarding the impact of the tannery’s closing on sewer rates and the new PARCC Side Wastewater Treatment Plant and since others may have similar questions, I would like to answer them publicly. The short answer to this question is simple. The City’s share of financing and operting the new treatment plant today is $90,000 less per year than the cost of signing the new City of Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant contract. In addition, the City has saved $2.4 million over the last ten (10) years by not signing the proposed new Grand Rapids contract when it was presented in the winter of 1998. This savings over the last ten (10) years has allowed us to keep our sewer rates stable. That said, as I wrote in an earlier article, the tannery closing will impact rates likely resulting in an increase of approximately $10 per month for the average residential customer. While we understand that this is a difficult time for a rate increase, the tannery closing would have increased rates even higher if Rockford had signed the Grand Rapids contract ten (10) years ago and not built the PARCC […]

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