To the Editor:
I have been a councilman in the City of Grosse Pointe Woods and reader of the Grosse Pointe News for more than 25 years. This is the first time that I have felt compelled to write a letter to you expressing my own personal views concerning the content and methods of reporting alleged news to your readers.
While I have disagreed with the Grosse Pointe News' positions and methods in the past, I felt that it was the News' right of "Free speech" to report items in the manner the News thought best.
The Grosse Pointe News article "Chylinski against $10,700 wing ding," printed in the Jan. 23 issue, however, both angered and saddened me. This article reports the uninformed and unappreciative comments of councilperson Chylinski concerning the city's efforts to thank its many volunteers for the thousands of hours they volunteer each year to serve the city and its residents.
While the article contained the correct and appreciative comments of Mayor Novitke on this subject, it was slanted in such a manner as to infer that this reception is for political appointments made by the mayor. This is simply not the case. Appointments of people to these commissions and boards are made through suggestions of council members, other working commission and board members and citizens who volunteer their services.
Council members review all proposed appointments. These appointments are then confirmed by vote of the council at a public meeting. As such, these are very public appointments and not appointments by the mayor as inferred by Mr. Lindberg's article.
The members of these boards and commissions are citizens who are lawyers, doctors, architects, educators, accounting, marketing, banking, elder care, recreation, and other types of professionals as well as knowledgeable people who volunteer their services to benefit the city and its residents.
There are literally hundreds of people who volunteer thousands of hours to organize and run programs and assist the city on a day- to-day basis. Their efforts make available programs that enrich the lives of all of our citizens, young and old alike, that the city cannot afford or that, otherwise, would not exist without their efforts.
The volunteers save the city countless hours of employee time and also save the city substantial other expense. I for one am very grateful for these people and can only hope that our citizens appreciate their quiet efforts.
The reception is the city's small way of saying thank you for all of your efforts.
Considering all of the hours these volunteers devote to the city, the cost of the reception vs. the amounts saved by the city if it had to pay for these services is insignificant. Thus, I think that this expenditure is a very fiscally responsible way for the city to thank these volunteers for their efforts and all of the money they have saved the city.
In her comments on this issue, councilperson Chylinski appears at best to be either sadly uninformed or at worst very unappreciative of the efforts of her fellow citizens.
While councilperson Chylinski said that she would not attend this year's reception, she has both voted for and attended this reception in the past. I can only hope that her lack of attendance is because she has something more important to do on this evening rather than her personal statement that in her opinion these volunteers we are thanking are not worthy of this small thanks.
In relation to her comments on a parking fund for Mack Avenue, I would state that the council and administration have always been concerned with funding, development and improvement of parking on Mack Avenue. The efforts in this regard include the use of the uncompensated time, talents, knowledge and skills of the very volunteers who she seems to think are not worthy of thanks and whose efforts save the city substantial amounts of money to help pay for these improvements.
In many cases, parking cannot be developed in certain areas of the city, regardless of cost, due to Restrictive Deed Covenants, that prevent the use of the property for parking or commercial purposes.
In the past, councilperson Chylinski has inhibited the efforts of these parking programs by asking for the mayor to reprimand certain city officials for their efforts to even investigate the availability of properties without coming to the council first for permission to do so. Clearly, if she is so concerned and informed on the parking issue, she would not try to inhibit these efforts without first checking why they are being made by the administration.
While I am on the subject of the Grosse Pointe News' reporting, I would also like to note its apparent disregard for the efforts of the Grosse Pointe Business & Professional Association of Mack Avenue (Mack Ave. Association) in favor of the much smaller business association ("Other Group") that has been recently formed by a small group of businesses in Grosse Pointe Woods.
The Mack Ave. Association has for years worked with not only the City of Grosse Pointe Woods but also all of the other Grosse Pointe cities to improve and develop business on Mack Avenue. Their members like our city volunteers devote countless numbers of hours to enhance and improve business and life in all of the Grosse Pointes, including Grosse Pointe Woods.
Among their community efforts are the annual Easter Egg Hunt, treats for the Halloween Party and funding/ support and services for the Annual Fireworks. Rather than recognizing the efforts of this group or to seek their comments on various issues, the Grosse Pointe News reporters choose to either seek out or print only the comments of the Other Group.
The Other Group does nothing but criticize or whine about anything the city chooses to do. They do this in a nonconstructive manner, because it does not fit with the personal views or agendas of the five or six businesses who are the founding members Ñ regardless of how the efforts of the city will benefit its citizens as a whole.
It would seem to me that the Grosse Pointe News readers would be better served by seeking the comments of the Mack Ave. Association as well as the Other Group. In this way readers would have the benefit of both balanced reporting and the knowledge and input of businesses that work to improve Mack Avenue.
Finally, I would state that we have several major projects that need the support, input and cooperation of all Grosse Pointe Woods residents and the Grosse Pointe News. The first is the Mack Avenue water main project. The project will replace the old and antiquated water supply system with a system that will improve water system delivery and save the city and its citizens thousands of dollars in future repairs.
The second is the Sunrise Assisted Living facility that, hopefully, will start construction later this year. This facility, for the first time, will provide our senior citizens, who can no longer operate or maintain their home but desire to remain in the Grosse Pointe Woods area, with a facility where they can live that is within the confines of Grosse Pointe Woods.
Third is the new library to be located on the Parcells Middle School property at Mack Avenue and Vernier. This new library building will replace a much smaller and outdated facility. It will vastly improve service and the quality of life for our citizens and all of the citizens of the Grosse Pointes.
Fourth is the question of the best way to resolve the traffic problems at Mack Avenue and Brys Drive.
It would seem to me that the time and efforts of the Grosse Pointe News would be better devoted to providing balanced, correct and informed reporting on these issues rather than devoting time to negative and uninformed reporting on such issues as the Community Reception for our tireless, devoted and uncompensated volunteers.
City of Grosse Pointe Woods
January 30, 2003