October 24, 2013Karen Zarowny brings more than a knowledge of city ordinances to her job as the newest code enforcement officer in the Woods.
She also brings a degree in urban studies and course work toward a master's degree in urban planning at Wayne State University.
And while she is working in the Building Department to make sure code violations like an unmowed lawn or an abandoned car are addressed, city officials are utilizing her expertise in other areas as well.
For example, Zarowny is supervising the landscaping project at The Rivers, the new senior community being built on Cook Road. She also is sitting in on city planning workshops.
"She brings a new perspective to our meetings," said Woods building official Gene Tutag. "In addition to her education, she can put a youthful slant on things."
That doesn't mean she expects Grosse Pointe Woods to become the new Royal Oak or Ferndale.
"The Woods is very family focused," Zarowny said. "Young people may start out in Ferndale, but when they want to settle down and start a family, Grosse Pointe Woods is a very attractive community, based on our quality of life. This is a strong community with good housing and quality schools. It is safe with a strong sense of community."
She also is bringing her expertise in urban planning and economic development by exploring grant opportunities for Mack Avenue businesses.
Zarowny, 25, grew up in Grosse Pointe Park, where she attended St. Clare of Montefalco before graduating from Regina High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in urban studies from Wayne State and will complete her master's in December. She was working as the senior coordinator for the Parks and Recreation department when she saw the notice for the administrative clerk position with the building department.
"It has helped me to become familiar with planning procedures," she said.
She is also currently doing a street by street, block by block assessment of a small area of the Woods, north of Vernier and West of Mack, reminding residents of city codes with regards to maintaining their property.
"It can be as simple as making sure the grass is cut or reminding people they can't store trash cans on the side of their houses," she said. "It's about maintaining and improving a community. We have residents who are concerned and care about their community, and others who don't."
And for those who don't, she keeps her ticket book handy.