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Monday mornings on "Morning Edition" on 90.5FM WKAR, we talk with mayors and supervisors from cities and townships across mid-Michigan.

Lansing Township Manager Talks Sidewalks, Redevelopment & Screenings

Dion'trae Hayes
Lansing Township
Lansing Township supervisor Dion'trae Hayes

The May 7, 2018 "Mondays with the Mayor" guest was Lansing Township supervisor Dion'trae Hayes. 

Whorf: 8:30 from WKAR 90.5 FM, your NPR station capital region. You’re listening to morning edition, it's time for our mondays with the mayor segment. And joining us today is Lansing Township supervisor, Dion’trae Hayes. Thank you for coming in early on a Monday morning.   

Hayes: Thank you so much for having me.

Whorf: Thanks for bringing the beautiful weather today.  

Hayes: You’re welcome.

Whorf: Did you have a good weekend, and enjoyed it?

Hayes: I did, the weather this weekend was amazing. It was fantastic to get out and walk some trails, and really just enjoy it.

Whorf: Did the same thing. Yea, did a little hiking, so beautiful.

Hayes: Yes.

Whorf: We know that you are the Lansing Township supervisor. We also know you’re an MSU grad.

Hayes: Yes I am.

Whorf: Tell us about that experience during your MSU years.

Hayes: Oh my MSU years were fantastic! I came here, I’m born and raised in the city of Detroit.  I came here to go to school because MSU is a beautiful campus. Originally I wanted to be a doctor; I ended up graduating from the college of agriculture and natural resources as a food industry management grad. And I worked in the fields for a couple years and decided to pursue my masters degree. So I went to CMU and that is where I got my masters in Public administration.

Whorf: Yea, what led you into public administration; public service. What kind of, some of the things in your background that inspired you to go down that road?

Hayes: That is a very interesting question. So, after I graduated from MSU, I got my perspective of what I considered the young adult real world. And I noticed that there was one consistent thing. A lot of the decision that were made in my life; from paying taxes, to paying back student loans, to local ordinances, were made by elected officials. So I wanted to learn more about a public administration and public policy because it had a direct impact on my life.

Whorf: What was your experience like at CMU or your masters degree?

Hayes: Oh it was fantastic. It was a two year program and it exposed me to so many components of finance, and public policy, and just comparative analytics. And I got to study abroad in Italy, and that was amazing. We compared a politics from the Italian legislature; some of the things that they were doing there locally in Rome and Macerata where I stayed and what we were applying here at home. It was a very interesting contrast but there were a lot of similarities.

Whorf: With us today is Lansing Townships supervisor Dion’trae Hayes, thanks again for being on morning edition today.

Hayes: Thank you for having me, this is fantastic.

Whorf: Having a great time this morning. Beautiful weather and a terrific conversation about some important issues; and some beautiful spots; and some fun events in Lansing Township. Lets the pages back a couple here and talk about some of the flooding we experienced in the region weeks ago. What was the impact on Lansing Township and your community?   

Hayes: The impact was severe, several of our businesses were greatly impacted as well as the residential area in Urbandale neighborhood. There are a couple of homes that are still being evaluated by engineers, to determine the integral structure integrity to make sure that they are safe to operate. I know that there have been some foundation cracking in one of the homes, so it's very real that some of them will be condemned, unfortunately. So we have learned a lot going through this flood; the importance of emergency management, getting the word out. Our volunteers were phenomenal. I mean they went door to door letting citizens know, letting business owners know of the impending dangers, making sure that they had all of their questions answered, and it had been a fantastic response by them as well as our emergency service operators. So I really appreciate that, as well as mayor Andy Schor, working collaboratively with me in that project.    

Whorf: How many volunteers were you able to organize?   

Hayes: Overall, it may have been well over 50 volunteers. If you include our emergency personnel, almost 100.

Whorf: Give us an idea of where that Urbandale area is for those who aren’t familiar with the map in their own minds.

Hayes: Okay, so the Urbandale area we would classify Kalamazoo as a good marker. Kalamazoo homer area, a flagship would be Dagwoods, everyone seems to know where Dagwoods is. Our newest business over there is Green Dot stables, who was able to recover very well from that. And they’re known from their sliders and they’re located also in the city of detroit. So they’ve been a great addition to that area.

Whorf: Kalamazoo was closed right there on 1-27. And anybody who drives through East Lansing, into Lansing, and Kalamazoo knows exactly that location. So we were through that area with our WKAR news team and there was quite a bit of standing water there, a couple feet high for some time. So sorry to hear about the damage and loss of those who suffered, but glad to hear that people seem to be bouncing back now. Let’s talk about another project, and that’s the Waverly golf course, towards the Westside of Lansing. What’s happening there?

Hayes: Oh, that is so exciting what’s going on at the Waverly golf course. We’re actually having a meeting tonight at 7 P.M. It’s a special meeting of the planning commision, to hear the vision that Tom Pohlman, is the investor from Northern Capital Investment out of Grand Rapids. His vision for that site is going to be a rezoning request. Right now it’s owned residential and the thought is to make it planned development to allow for mixed use. That would include some retail, as well as restaurants, a gas station, office businesses. But I’m most excited about the residential component, so we’re talking about single-family homes, multi-family houses, a senior complex. It’s phenomenal the plan they have for that space, so I’m really excited about it.

Whorf: What kind of turn out? You hoping for a good turn out? Maybe some discussion or it would just be presentations?

Hayes: I think that there is going to be a presentation and then some lively discussion. Because anytime that you do this type of redevelopment, you’re going to have input from citizens directly impacted by it. You know, there are going to be people who are for it and people who have issues with it, but my hope is that we put it all out there and we address as much of it as possible.

Whorf: That’s a large scale project. By the way I am speaking with Dion’trae Hayes, she’s Lansing Townships supervisor, we’re talking about some of the projects and news in her community. We’ve heard about this major project that will be in the planning for the days to come at the form of Waverly golf course. But you were telling me a story about a project on such a local level on something like, sidewalks, that you get directly involved with folks who need repairs right in front of their own homes.    

Hayes: I do, I do. And people are very surprised I gotta tell you, to see the supervisor of the Township out marking sidewalks, but I’ll give you an example. Last week, I got a call from a resident. She saw the markings on the sidewalk, and the ones that need to be repaired have an “X” on them. And she thought that she had a few that had been missed, so she wanted to know if someone could come out and look out. And I said “Yes, someone will come out and look at your sidewalks”, and when I showed up, she was surprised. So here is the Township supervisor dressed in a T-shirt and sweats prepared with my marking paint to mark the sidewalks-

Whorf: I was gonna say, you’re out there with the spray paint can, right?

Hayes: I am and I’m spraying away and she was very appreciative because people think because of my position, something like that would be out of my ram. But I don’t feel as though any position, I am above it. As a supervisor I was elected to be a servant and when the people need something, I want to be there to help, to answer questions, to give them feedback, to just grant a listening ear, and to be helpful in any way that I can.

Whorf: You’re also saying that there is funding allocated for people who do need to do things like this, like sidewalk repair.

Hayes: Yes, so sidewalk and roads. We have a sidewalk and roads millage in the Township. We were fortunate that we were proactive, we saw that it was stalling in the state legislature. And meanwhile our roads were getting worse, our sidewalks were coming into disrepair. We had to do something so the Township as a whole took action, and the people voted to support it. We have a sidewalk plan located on our website. So we go to the Township, throughout the Township, a section every year to repair it and this year we’re on the Eastside of the Township in our Groesbeck area. And so we expect to be there maybe for another year before coming back to Westside and working on the business areas.      

Whorf: Let’s jump ahead to July 20th. We’re almost out of time, what’s happening?

Hayes: July 20th is our movie in the park event and this year we are looking at screening the movie Coco. I am very excited about this event, it’s our second annual. And I think I can call it annual since we had such a successful first year. This event is near and dear to my heart, while other municipalities may have a movie night. What I strive to do is provide a free form of entertainment for families who can’t necessarily afford it in Lansing Township and even in our surrounding communities. I provide free consensions, free entertainment; it really is a time for families to come together and really just enjoy each other. And I also provide cultural education.

Whorf: Where is that going to be again?

Hayes: That is going to be in East intermediate school and that address is 3131 W Michigan. Again July 20th and you want to get there at 6 PM. Bring your favorite chair or blanket.

Whorf: Movie in the park July 20th with Lansing Townships supervisor Dion’trae Hayes. Thanks again for being with us.      

Hayes: Thank you for having me.                                           

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