Building a Better Redford – 2010

By Pat Murphy • OBSERVER STAFF WRITER • October 3, 2010


People left the meeting enthused and optimistic.
“I’m impressed that so many people, with such diverse backgrounds, can come together for a common cause,” said Kathy Abela, a parent with two youngsters in Redford Union schools.

“This is very exciting,” said Patricia J. Thomas, an interim trustee on the South Redford Board of Education.

Abela and Thomas were among the two dozen parents, administrators and elected officials at the Redford District Library Thursday for the organizational meeting of Building a Better Redford — the partnership promoting cooperation between the public school districts and the township.

The meeting was something of a brainstorming session, explained Charles Fleetham, president of Project Innovations, the consulting company hired to facilitate the partnership.
“We wanted to get people involved,” he said, and discuss some ideas. Some of the more concrete work will begin the week of Oct. 11, when he schedules the first of five meetings before the end of the year.

Residents and others interested in the township’s future can still get involved, Fleetham said. There’s a lot of work to be done, he said, and we want the process to be inclusive.
“This initiative has real potential,” said Brian Galdes, superintendent of the South Redford School District. “The township has so much to offer. We’ve got to tell our story.”
One of the early objectives of the partnership was to save money — by buying supplies and contracting for services jointly.

That’s a worthwhile goal, said Galdes, but he envisions accomplishing more than sharing resources and ideas. “We can also make Redford Township a better place,” he said.
Township Supervisor Tracey Schultz Kobylarz agreed. “I am very happy with the progress,” she said. “The tasks at hand will not be easy, and the goals are diverse and complex,” the supervisor continued. “But the group is dedicated and failure is not an option.”

Indeed, the vision statement crafted that night outlines how diverse and complex the mission is expected to be. “By working together collaboratively,” it says, “we, the Partnership for Building a Better Redford, want to help Redford thrive by strengthening our community as a great place for people to live, work and play.”

Groups represented in the partnership have been striving for those goals individually, said fire Chief James Gomulka. But the partnership expects to get results through collective effort. “The sum of our efforts is likely to be better than what we do individually,” he said.

A relative newcomer to Redford said he was impressed with the group’s enthusiasm. “People are passionate about doing something for Redford Township,” said Ronald Stoneman, who worked in the Lansing area until earlier this year when he became superintendent of Redford Union Schools.

Nick Griswold, an accountant with South Redford schools was also impressed. “I think people are committed to helping Redford.”

The partnership is a good idea, said Steve Losey, president of the Redford Union Educational Association. And the idea of working cooperatively is something that should be done.
“But the meeting was a little fluffy as far as I was concerned,” he said.

Carmen Stuyvenberg, an educational assistant at South Redford schools, said the meeting got the partnership off on the right track. “We’ll all be better off with a stronger Redford,” she said.

What do you think? What would you hope comes out of the Building a Better Redford collaboration?

Send your letters to: The Redford Observer Att: Larry Ruehlen, editor 615 W. Lafayette Blvd. Detroit, MI 48226.
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