Lansing Mayor Andy Schor outlined his administration’s goals for 2020 in his State of the City address, focusing on mental health, neighborhoods, roads and continued economic development.
Schor spoke before a standing-room-only audience in The Abigail, a building that was part of the Michigan School for the Blind and stood vacant for years until it was recently renovated to provide 60 senior apartments.
Among many of the new positions announced during the Feb. 5 speech was creation of a Mental Health Task Force, which will find solutions to the mental health challenges in Lansing.
“Like cities throughout the state and nation, mental health issues have a significant impact in Lansing.” Schor said. “We’ve seen this through the activities of our police, and that’s why I prioritized placing a social worker in the Lansing Police Department – so we can assist those with mental illness rather than putting them in jail.”
Also at the top of the mayor’s to-do list is Lansing’s infrastructure. Schor said 15 miles of city streets were improved in 2019, and he touched on an initiative to change six one-way streets in downtown Lansing into two-way streets. Those streets are Capitol and Grand avenues as well as Ottawa, Allegan, Pine and Walnut streets.
“Two-way streets have been shown to slow traffic, make streets more pedestrian-friendly, safer for our residents and visitors, and more beneficial to local businesses by giving them more visibility,” Schor explained.
The mayor also touted the new residential and retail development in Lansing.
“We are moving faster than the speed of business,” Schor said. “This is all part of my vision to create jobs and grow our economy downtown, in our corridors and in our neighborhoods.”
Schor said various construction occurring in Lansing will create 227 new housing units in downtown Lansing alone.
To generate more development, Schor has created two new corridor improvement authorities, one on South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and another on North Grand River Avenue.
“This means we’ll have four corridor improvement authorities in Lansing whose goal it is to focus on revitalizing these areas,” Schor said. “Our two existing corridor authorities on Michigan Avenue and West Saginaw have already approved their corridor plans, and we’re looking forward to new opportunities on all four of these critical arteries.”
Neighborhood revitalization continues to be a goal of Schor’s administration. For the past year the focus was on southwest Lansing, specifically the Baker Street neighborhood and the neighborhood along Pleasant Grove and Holmes roads.
“The result of our focus on the Baker Street neighborhood is significant. Victim and property crime is down 33% and … more families with young children are moving into the area,” he explained.
Schor announced the focus on neighborhoods will expand.
“I am announcing that the neighborhood we are currently in right now, the Willow-Walnut-Comstock Park area, will be designated the next neighborhood of focus,” he said. “Like we did in the Baker neighborhood of southwest Lansing, the city of Lansing will focus on empowering our residents, building wealth and ensuring they have the services they need while working with existing community partners in the area.”
Other significant parts of the address included:
Creating the city’s 12th community policing area, this one in southeast Lansing.
Requiring developers to make public improvements as part of their renovation or construction projects.
Implementation of an age-friendly community plan to make downtown easily accessible to older residents.
Working with the various employee unions to address future unfunded liabilities.
Creation of a sustainability management coordinator to develop and implement existing plans to bolster sustainability and address climate change.