Just Passing Through

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

While driving into work this morning I couldn’t help but notice what a beautiful place the City of Auburn Hills has become.  Tree-lined streets, homes with American flags displayed proudly, corporate headquarters with well-manicured lawns, and bustling restaurants serving folks excited for the weekend.  I couldn’t help but think about how things could be so much different.  Yes, the stars have aligned for our town.

May we remember to not become too proud or too comfortable.  Many of my peers working at other municipalities struggle with serious disinvestment and fight for small victories, yet Auburn Hills has found a way to keep growing.  I told a friend yesterday that over $90 million in new private investment is coming to Downtown Auburn Hills next year.  He looked at me in amazement and shook his head in disbelief.  Yes, we hustled for it as a team.  This type of resurgence just doesn’t happen.  It wasn’t serendipity.  The City went after these developers and made the business case to them on why they should invest.  Our community is working to making things happen so that our residents have a traditional gathering place for big community events like parades, a tree lighting ceremony, and an awesome summer festival.  We desire to have a strong Downtown with shops, restaurants, and lots of people walking around.  We dream big and will not let difficult challenges limit us.

But what about the future?  Will our decline come?  It’s inevitable right?  No, municipalities can keep growing and reinventing themselves.  They don’t have to die.  Auburn Hills’ leaders must continue to make wise choices in terms of infrastructure replacement, redevelopment strategies, financial planning, and staffing so that this dynamic community is ready for the next downturn in the economy.  We must stay vigilant and remember that the past will repeat itself.   The good thing is that our Mayor and City Council are on top of these issues.  They’re starting their annual budget review process and their thinking about future generations.  As the Council’s advisors, we follow their direction and will work to implement their vision.

Just like my pleasant drive into work this morning, we’re just passing through.  As public servants, we have a responsibility to leave this place better than we found it.  It’s a tall order, but together we can do it.