DDA goes ‘big’ with trio of events
The Brownstown Township Downtown Development Authority has decided to go big! On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the DDA will hold the 2015 Business Expo, The Taste of Brownstown and the Brownstown Farmers Market (last day of the season) all at once.
All the events will be held at the Brownstown Event Center and the surrounding campus. The Business Expo, with more than 30 local businesses expected to be participating, will be inside the Event Center, 23345 King Road, from 12-5 p.m.
The Taste of Brownstown will be outside on the stage behind the Event Center from 12-4 p.m. and the Brownstown Farmers Market will be on the front lawn of the Event Center from 12-6 p.m. The Expo is open to the public and free of charge.
“We decided to have an expanded version of the DDA Business Expo,” said Sue Trussell, Brownstown DDA assistant director. “We planned it to coincide with the end of the Farmers Market so the visitors to the Expo could stop by and check out the market vendors.
“We will also be highlighting local restaurants and caterers at the Taste of Brownstown, which will be held on the stage of the Event Center.”
Trussell said all of those attending will enjoy free tastes from local restaurants and caterers.
“This is the perfect way to experience many of the great things that Brownstown has to offer all in one place and all at one time,” she said. “The DDA encourages everyone to come out to the Brownstown Event Center on Tuesday, Sept. 15th!”
Contact Trussell at (734) 675-5911 for more details.
BY JOE HOSHAW Jr.
New residential construction in Brownstown Township in large subdivisions such as Del Webb’s Bridgewater, Red Hawk Landing and Timber Creek is far from the only development activities currently under way throughout the sprawling 30.5-square-mile community.
Here is a sampling of other active projects as provided by the Brownstown Downtown Development Authority: Ashley Capital, which already has several existing buildings in its Brownstown Business Center along I-75 between Sibley and King roads, will be developing two buildings at the center totaling a combined 600,000 square feet. The project represents about a $60 million to $70 million investment that is expected to create 400 jobs.
Dr. Razmig Haladjian is building a new 10,000-square-foot building next to his current building on Allen Road.
Children’s Montessori on Allen Road has built a new school and as of press time had a tentative opening date of Sept. 1.
The Ice Box is now the Brownstown Sports Center and has new owners that are investing a lot of money in improvements to the facility. They have converted the third sheet of ice to a sports court and have seen a tremendous amount of activity.
George’s Used Car at Allen and Pennsylvania Roads is expanding to George’s Super Center with a new showroom and other improvements.
Our Lady of Hope Cemetery is building a new mausoleum and with have new entry enhancements and signs.
DDA officials also report that they are working with the developer on the retail portion of the Town Center project that is planned for the West-Telegraph area. The retail investment will be $15 to $20 million.
“We will be making an announcement about the retail that will be coming as soon as we sign the purchase agreement — which should be soon,” DDA Assistant Director Sue Trussell said.
Ice Box gets new life as Brownstown Sports Center
BY BRIAN RZEPPA
For decades, the Ice Box Sports Center in Brownstown was known as one of the staples of the Downriver hockey community. When word came around recently that it would be closing its doors, Chris Boller knew that something had to be done.
Boller, the owner of a small ATM company, purchased the building with partner Ron Zimmers and re-named it the Brownstown Sports Center.
“It was really just dumb luck,” Boller said. “My son’s hockey team was there and while they were in the locker room, a parent said that the Ice Box was going to be shut down and turned into a warehouse. I suggested that we buy it and while many thought it was a pipe dream, it ended up coming together. To say we were lucky was an understatement; it was the first place I ever skated so for everything to come full circle is really great,” Boller said.
For years the Ice Box was known for the thousands of hockey players that had come and gone on their ice, but Boller is opening up the doors for all kinds of different athletes with the recent adjustments that he’s made to the building.
“The biggest change is the third sheet of ice that has been transformed into a gymnasium. We have four full-sized basketball courts that can also accommodate six volleyball courts. Really anything sports-wise we’re able to facilitate in that area. We have an unbelievable amount of volleyball in there already; we have a bunch of tournaments coming in including one with 40 teams. We’re ready to just continue expanding our business and by all indications, that’s what’s going to happen. It’s been a real neat situation that we’ve put together.”
The changes thus far have been massive, but the partners’ vision for the future of the Brownstown Sports Center is one that could make it one of the go-to establishments in the Downriver area.
“We’re looking to do some work in the front with a physical therapy company and athletic training group. We’re trying to partner with a major healthcare system to get an urgent care clinic in here, so that if an athlete gets hurt we’ll have doctors and a clinic right here. It’ll be a community-based clinic, too, so it won’t just be for the kids in the building. In addition to that, we’re looking to add a restaurant into the building, too. We’re trying to build a one-stop shop for everything and it’s slowly starting to pick up.”
They’ve received support from the community throughout their entire time in the city and according to Boller, the township itself has played a key role in getting things off of the ground.
“They’ve been tremendous and have bent over backward for anything that we’ve needed. It’s really been a wonderful relationship to this point and we’re really looking forward to continue moving into the future with them.”
With all of the improvements to this point and those that are going to be made in the future, the new Brownstown Sports Center seems to be a business on the rise.
For more information, find and like “Brownstown Sports Center” on Facebook.
Service with a smile
Mahar always enjoys helping residents
BY MELANIE YOUNG
Greg Mahar’s 24 years as Deputy Supervisor for Brownstown Township may soon be coming to an end, but his 50 years of public service are something to celebrate. Mahar plans to retire at the end of 2015, but has a wonderful career to look back on.
Mahar became deputy supervisor in 1992 when Supervisor W. Curt Boller called him and asked him to come aboard. He then served Supervisor Arthur Wright and the current Supervisor Andrew Linko. His longevity is almost unheard of in today’s political climate. As each new supervisor was elected, he would have his resignation letter prepared but was always told to put it away. Mahar attributes his longevity to “honesty and loyalty,” adding, “I treated people the way I’d like to be treated.”
Public service is the only career he knows. His career began as a youth block club president in Delray, where he was born and raised by his Hungarian mother. From there, it was all uphill.
As a high school student, he was appointed by Congressman John Dingell to be a page for the House of Representatives. His time in Washington, D.C., brought some of the best memories of his career.
Once while the House was in a late-night session regarding Vietnam, Mahar had to run an errand. As he was returning to the Capitol, walking under the bright lights of the Rotunda, he ran into then Sen. Robert Kennedy, who engaged him in conversation. He remembers that night like it was yesterday.
Another memory was of a time he met President Lyndon Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird. They posed for a photo, and Mahar developed it and sent it to the president. He received it back in the mail, matted, framed and signed by the president.
After high school and college, Mahar once again worked with Dingell, this time as a paid staff member. He also worked for Michigan State Representative Jerry Bartnik and Wayne County Commissioner Ed Boike. It was during his time with Boike that he received the call from Boller.
As Deputy Supervisor, Mahar is in charge of running all township departments except the treasurer’s office and the clerk’s office. His position is full time. Mahar has seen many changes in the township over the years, but the biggest change has been the development of new homes and business.
“I tried to do a nice job for the residents and make sure people got their money’s worth from living here.”
Some of his notable achievements while serving Brownstown include oversight of construction of the $6.5 million police station as well as Township Hall renovations, fundraising for and purchasing a senior citizens van, and working with the State of Michigan to get Brownstown Township placed on the Michigan map.
Mahar has been a champion not only for Brownstown, but Downriver as well. He’s served on countless committees, including the Southern Wayne County Chamber of Commerce. According to Sandy Mull, president of the chamber, he is known by Downriver’s elected officials at every level of government. “I can’t think of a major event where Greg hasn’t been in attendance.”
According to Mull, Mahar’s reach included more than politics.
“His legacy reaches beyond his political connections. He has long been a supporter of arts and culture Downriver.”
In fact, Mahar and his wife created and planned the Hungarian Ethnic Festival, which was held at Yack Arena in Wyandotte each year as a tribute to their Hungarian heritage, which is shared by many Downriver.
According to Pat Andrews, the former longtime editor of the News-Herald Newspapers Focus Section, “When he planned an event, every detail would be taken care of.”
After so many years of public service why did Greg Mahar never run for office himself? “I always liked working behind the scenes, making things happen for other people,” he said.
As the sun sets on an amazing career of public service, he remembers his early years.
“I owe a tremendous amount to John Dingell,” said Mahar. “It’s been a marvelous career. But, there comes a time when you feel like it’s time to go.”
Mahar will not disappear from community groups or events but will be taking a break to spend time with his wife, who has been retired for five years now.
He will continue his hobby of writing personal letters to celebrities. He’s written to Bob Hope, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke and received personal replies and photos that now adorn the walls of his home office. They join the other mementos of his public service, such as autographed photos of Margaret Thatcher, President Nixon, inauguration invitations, among other treasures.
When he is ready, Mahar’s future plans include some sort of public service, because according to him, “Life is about trying to help people who need help.”