By Charles Sercombe
With our annual Year in Review behind us, it left us to ponder what was the most important story of the year?
We say this every year, but it’s so true for this little town: There are simply too many to choose from.
For example, the year 2016 was ushered in with the first-ever Muslim majority city council – a cultural turning point for Hamtramck, which for decades had been a Polish-American enclave.
National and international media outlets swooped into town to report on this major cultural/political changeover.
With an influx of folks from Bangladesh, Yemen and Bosnia, most of whom are of the Muslim faith, the city’s ethnic make-up is now permanently changed from being eastern-European centric.
This year also started out with the official appointment of Anne Moise as the city’s first-ever female police chief. That’s a major development considering the department is over 100 years old.
The city’s beloved folk art creation, “Hamtramck Disneyland,” was saved by possible destruction thanks to the local arts collective, Hatch, stepping in to lead an online fundraiser to purchase the two houses that support the artwork.
“Hamtramck Disneyland” will now forever be saved and remain a cultural treasure – not to mention a huge tourist attraction.
We came awfully, awfully close to name another first-ever as the most important development: A comprehensive plan to start repaving our streets and also installing new sewer connections to stop the yearly basement flooding backups of raw sewage.
But the biggest bomb to drop on Hamtramck is one that we think earned the distinction of “Newsmaker of the Year,” and will continue to jumpstart the city’s renaissance: the first season of the Detroit City Football Club at Keyworth Stadium.
In a word, the club’s establishment here is awesome.
Why is that?
From the get-go turnout for the games at Keyworth were higher than anticipated. It was initially thought about 4,000-5,000 fans would come out. Instead, 7,000 have been crowding the stadium.
Those fans have spilled out to local bars and restaurants as well – an injection of visitors this city badly needs.
If the city could bottle the goodwill this team has come to represent, we’d all be millionaires.
But the best part is the money the club has brought in to upgrade Keyworth Stadium like never before. There have already been huge improvements to the infrastructure and grandstands, and there is much more to come thanks to a successful online fundraising drive by the club.
This stadium is no ordinary structure. It was built in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration – a nationwide effort that put millions of Americans to work during the height of the 1930s Great Depression.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came there to officially dedicate it. Now that’s some pretty impressive history.
None of this restoration and infusion of energy into this community would have happened without the vision of Hamtramck Schools Superintendent Tom Niczay, the Hamtramck School Board and the district administration.
This project took a couple of years to make it happen, and school officials opened their doors to speed it along.
We owe the district a huge thanks for giving this community a much needed kick in the rear.
As Newsmaker of the Year, it will be hard to beat this development in the coming years.