Council and citizens listen and learn at monthly event
Posted on 07/24/2023
Beal Town resident Jeff Snyder makes a point as council members listen. Photo by Liz Cezat. City administration and elected leaders launched Coffee with Council this summer to provide an informal opportunity for City Council members to engage directly with residents in conversation regarding items of interest that impact the city.

Nearly a dozen guests attended the first Coffee with Council event at Tuscan Café on Main Street on June 15. They met with Council Members Andrew Krenz and Marilyn Price, along with City Manager George Lahanas. Topics brought up by residents ranged from how to improve the business section of Downtown Northville, to containing construction areas, improving the process for joining boards and commissions and connecting better with residents who live north of 8 Mile.

At the second event on July 15 at Mithai & Chia, 10 citizens formed a circle with Council Members Price and John Carter, and Lahanas to discuss a range of topics. Price said she and the other council members are open to learning from residents. U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell attended later in the meeting, noting she was there to listen.

One of the chief topics brought up by residents related to traffic flow due to portions of Main and N. Center being closed to vehicles. Jeff Snyder, a resident of Beal Town, said wayfinding apps are directing people through his neighborhood and along River Street, which has been much busier, especially during morning and evening rush hour. Andrew Daily, a downtown resident and real estate developer, noted that the city is making some good changes in regard to adding new stop signs and pedestrian crossings but said government moves slowly with more to be done.

Northville resident Nancy Chirri said she wants the city to collect data from homeowners on whether the downtown streets should be open or closed to traffic since residents are largely impacted by it. Carter said he wants to see data on how the traffic patterns have changed since the downtown streets were closed.

City Manager George Lahanas said the DDA is a great avenue for business owners to weigh in on how their businesses are doing with the street closures. There are plans to host a business forum in the near future to gain more insight.

Each Coffee with Council will be attended by only two council members, with different pairs at each meeting. Upcoming sessions are August 17 at 2 p.m. with Council Members Andrew Krenz and Barbara Moroski-Browne at Genitti’s; and Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. at Sweet Brew & Spice with Council Members John Carter and Barbara Moroski-Browne. The event may be extended beyond the preliminary plan for four sessions.

“Citizen engagement helps facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between individuals who live and work in Northville and the policy makers who make decisions that affect them in some way,” said Lahanas. “City government works better when it listens well to the people it serves. Proactively seeking input from the community may seem like a small thing but it is mighty when it leads to better outcomes on a range of policy decisions.”