By Ian Perrotta
Over the past year the routes to Hamtramck’s schools have gotten much safer, and last Friday (Nov. 20), residents and city officials gathered at People’s Community Services to celebrate that accomplishment.
It’s all thanks to Safe Routes to School, a project that stems from Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Cities of Promise Initiative. The program’s mission is “to make it safe, convenient and fun for children to bicycle and walk to school.”
In Hamtramck, the program was awarded $967,406 to be used for street, curb and sidewalk repair projects, place signage along school routes and install speed monitoring devices. Additionally, various presentations have been given to students, covering a host of topics ranging from bullying to making healthy choices.
The celebration was for more than just the achievements of this year. Though the grant was awarded in 2009, planning and development began all the way back in 2007. Led by the Safe Routes to Schools Collaborative – spearheaded largely by the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) under the guidance of Aswan Almaktary, Hamtramck Safe Routes Coordinator and ACCESS Hamtramck Office Manager – the process involved a multitude of people and organizations working together to achieve a common goal.
Almaktary thanked those involved, including city officials of Hamtramck, Mayor Karen Majewski, and particularly councilman Scott Klein, who was instrumental in getting the program off the ground.
“Scott Klein was really the backbone of this project,” said Almaktary, “and it would not have been possible without him.”
Mayor Majewski was also on hand to mark the occasion. She used the opportunity to highlight the fact that when different groups come together to work toward a common goal, great things can happen.
“This project is just proof of what we can do in a diverse community if we all come together,” she said. “It should be a lesson to all of us: if we have common interests and common goals, we can work together to get them accomplished.”