Telegram - Serving Metropolitan Detroit Since 1944

By Renee Summers
Telegram Reporter 

Transformation Taking Place in Ecorse

 

Ecorse recently received a grant to add play structures to its city parks.

Improvements and development aimed at making the city of Ecorse a desirable place to work, live, and play are advancing steadily along says Ecorse Mayor Lamar Tidwell. In addition to new businesses which will be opening in the city in the upcoming year, the mayor is pleased to announce that the city recently received two grants from DTE Energy to update the city's park facilities. Brand new play structures are being installed this spring at city parks and improvements are planned for the city's senior center and library as well. "It's phenomenal, the stuff going on, you're not going to recognize Ecorse in another couple of years," he says.

Tidwell explains that when cities seek grants at the county, state, and/or federal level, competition among municipalities is considerable. Because of this competition, he says Ecorse does much of the work involving acquiring land, planning, engineering work, and estimated time involved, so governmental entities can have an understanding of the immediate impact on the economy and employment. Such development and improvement projects that are at an advanced stage of planning and development are considered "shovel-ready" and the mayor explains that "shove-ready" projects are the key to obtaining funding.

Since the city established its Downtown Development Authority (DDA) more than a year ago, the DDA has used its power to plan and propose construction and redevelopment, and acquire financing via grants or loans to fulfil the goals city leaders have mapped out for development and economic growth in the city's downtown area along West Jefferson Avenue. One idea which is being considered is the construction of a senior living facility along West Jefferson.

Ecorse is continuing its blight-elimination efforts, says Tidwell, adding, "When I first ran for office, I said we were going to fight blight, and we're still fighting blight and we're still cleaning up this town up." Some owners of commercial properties in the city are cooperating with the city's plans and tear down their blighted property themselves and rebuild, inviting investment opportunity for new businesses. Tidwell adds that the city is examining the possibility of implementing a commercial business tax plan which will give new businesses a tax credit, providing another attractive incentive for business owners.

Other projects the city is tackling throughout Ecorse includes the replacement of lead water lines running into homes in the city, a program which has already begun, a new DPW garage, improvements to the Ecorse boat launch which will include ADA-compliant features, and the installation of a kayak launch at Pepper Park. Tidwell is most proud of those projects which not only improve but beautify the city and showcase the recreational opportunities Ecorse has to offer both in the parks and along the waterways. "We're making a destination community so people can come for recreation," he says.

Meanwhile, the redevelopment at the Mill Street industrial site is quietly humming along and Ecorse is still pursing plans to obtain roughly 30 acres of waterfront land from U.S. Steel for mixed-use development. "We think that not only would that help Ecorse, it would help downriver, and it would help U.S. Steel. Sometimes you do one thing that affects a whole lot of people and this is what we're trying to do," Tidwell says. "We're trying to take Ecorse to another level."

In all, Tidwell says the city has roughly 50 projects in progress within the city. "With all that, we still have a balanced budget and we're still getting a lot of grant money," he says, adding that property values are beginning to rise in the city and residents are responding by performing home improvements of all types. "Watch and see what's really going on in Ecorse. It's becoming a changed community through a lot of hard work and sacrifice. We're trying to do all the necessary things we need to do to make this a city that's a functional city."

 

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