Welcome to SEMCOG's Think Regional/Act Local blog! SEMCOG is the only organization in Southeast Michigan that brings together all governments to solve regional challenges and enhance the quality of life for the seven-county regions 4.7 million residents. With this regional perspective in mind, we work with member local governments to sustain our regions reputation as a great place to work, play, and do business.


Our panel of SEMCOG staff bloggers will post daily to this blog, discussing SEMCOG's data, federal and state legislative issues, and environmental and fiscal sustainability best practices for local governments all with the goal of creating a successful future for the region.



Think Regional/Act Local

Spotlight on Chrysler Beach – Marysville, St. Clair County

(Environment, Green infrastructure, SEMCOG Member Services, Stormwater management) Permanent link


August 20, 2014 - My colleague and carpool partner Bill Parkus recently spent some time in Marysville talking with city officials about environmental projects that may be eligible for grant funding. While he was there he got a tour of Chrysler Beach where Marysville is investing in its St. Clair River waterfront!


One of few sandy beaches on the river, this location was once a proving ground where Chrysler outboard motors were tested. Bill was really impressed with the existing riverwalk and planned improvements, such as a St.-Clair-River-inspired playground area, fish cleaning station, concessions, and enlarged boat access. He took a picture of the beginnings of a rain garden – near and dear to us at SEMCOG. The rain garden will be both beautiful and functional ‒ filtering stormwater runoff from the parking lot which will improve water quality in the river and reduce beach closures.


After talking to Bill, I went to Marysville’s website and found the waterfront has additional features complementing the beach, including a large grassy area and a gazebo (good spot for freighter watching!). The website also notes that additional vegetation is being planted to deter geese congregation.


The close proximity we in this region have to “big water” like the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers and Lake St. Clair is special – get outside and enjoy nature!



Amy has been with SEMCOG for over 20 years. Much of that time has been spent working the member relations beat. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring SEMCOG member communities are represented on SEMCOGÕs General Assembly, that these local officials are aware of SEMCOG benefits, and that they know how to access the benefits. She oversees the processes that govern the organization and assists members in participating on SEMCOG governing bodies. Amy has a MasterÕs degree in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University.

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The Power of Mother Nature

(Legislation, Regionalism, Stormwater management, Transportation) Permanent link


August 18, 2014 - Last Monday while driving home from a presentation in Birmingham, I saw something I have never seen before. There was so much water, creating so much pressure on the storm system that I saw a manhole cover literally explode out of the manhole! Incredible!


Monday was, indeed, an incredible day. I don't think I have ever seen so much rain in just a few hours. Each major piece of the public infrastructure system was taxed and pieces of each failed. The unprecedented rainfall severely impacted the road, storm and sewer, and electric systems, resulting in flooding in the streets and in many basements, as well as loss of electricity in some areas.


This situation was even worse on sections of the freeway, especially those below grade. Pumps are supposed to pump excess water out off the freeway, but many of the pumps either were overwhelmed by the volume of water or simply failed to work. Of course, I wonder where the pumps were supposed to pump the water to!


The result? Over 10 feet of water in some places. Water that covered several cars completely. By the way, the storm also knocked out electric service in several places which impacted the pumps on the freeway. I can't imagine having no electricity while watching water invade your basement. I feel so bad for so many people who had to endure that situation…and may still be.


The result? Cars totaled by their insurance companies, tons of bags of what used to be basement furniture, and personal things out on the street, people missing work to stay home and wait for help.


There have been several news stories about what happened and how we fix the situation. Mother Nature can display awesome power – power we cannot ever hope to totally mitigate. It is unreasonable to build an infrastructure system to address a storm of this size. A meteorologist said today that it was a once-every-500-years storm! However, it exposed the weakness in our public infrastructure system. We need to learn from this, prioritize improvements, and focus the resources we have on the most important improvements. We certainly need additional funding to improve the systems. We will never have the funds we need to fix everything, but we can make improvements over time.


It is our only chance to even begin to address the power of Mother Nature.



Carmine Palombo
If you want to know what about anything related to transportation in Southeast Michigan, don’t miss Carmine Palombo's blog. Carmine has more than 30 years of experience in various phases of transportation planning at SEMCOG. He is responsible for administering SEMCOG’s transportation planning program, which includes the region’s long-range transportation plan and short-term transportation plan.

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