BY MELANIE YOUNG
Grosse Ile residents have plenty of social media options to keep up with what’s going on in the island community. One particular Facebook group goes above and beyond to provide an interactive experience.
The Grosse Ile Civic Issues Facebook page is a publication of the group, the Grosse Ile Civic Association, which originally was established in 2008. The group was inactive for a few years until 2011, when member Craig Pilkington created the Facebook page.
According to the page, the Grosse Ile Civic Association describes itself as a community organization with the intent to provide balanced information to the citizens of Grosse Ile. The group may also advocate on issues of significant importance to the Grosse Ile community.
“The purpose is to examine and discuss community issues and township government and to build a consensus for positive change,” group member Greg Karmazin explained.
The group was officially reorganized in 2017 as a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. Karmazin joined Eric Anderson, Pilkington and new board president Bill Heil to form a new board of directors. Heil takes the place of original president and founding member Ernie Horvath. The board of directors holds regular board meetings to discuss community issues and the position the group will take on those issues. The original group held public meetings, and the current board hopes to hold them again in the future. In the past the group has been active in elections and hosted a public forum with the League of Women Voters in 2008 for the Township Board of Trustees election. They hope to be able to do that again in the future.
According to Karmazin, the group likes to pass along information from multiple sources. The page generates content from the members’ own research. The group has initiated many FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests on behalf of Grosse Ile and Downriver residents, requesting information about the Wayne County Bridge to Grosse Ile. They’ve also requested information about the sale of the McLouth Steel plant in Trenton. This information is published on the page with analysis if necessary.
“We try to post in a responsible manner,” said Karmazin. “We have a large segment of residents looking at the page for information about issues that affect Grosse Ile and Downriver.”
The page is also a vehicle to lead to further discussion. According to Karmazin, once the Ile Camera ceased publication, there has not been a good way for residents to engage with and discuss issues with each other.
“The Ile Camera fostered some of the same type of debate and discussion that we offer and it helps to fill the discussion void.”
“People need to have a way to engage.” Pilkington said. “This page has been an effective way for people to exchange views.”
The goal is to allow people to look at the facts and come to their own conclusion. The information on the page is usually printed as is and is not heavily editorialized.
One issue that has received a lot of attention and discussion on the page is the Wayne County Bridge to Grosse Ile. Most posters are not happy with the approach Wayne County is taking, with one commenting, “Even if it’s one person that is put in danger, why would the County keep putting price tags on it?”
Karmazin said the group encourages local officials to submit information to be reposted on the page, and they frequently repost information from Township Supervisor Brian Loftus’ personal page.
While the page passes along information, it is not meant to replace anyone or any other public information source for residents. The page administrators pay close attention to and personal attacks and profanity are prohibited. Offensive and inappropriate comments are removed.
Pilkington said the group serves a purpose in the community.
“Every community needs a group like this. It gives more people the ability to get involved in the government.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Grosse Ile Civic Association and how you can be involved, search out and follow the Grosse Ile Civic Issues Facebook page.