When Nancy Ridley moved to Mt. Pleasant as a Central Michigan University student, she never imagined she would later become City Manager and oversee the multiple services provided to residents. After graduating from CMU with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Finance, Nancy remained on campus to continue her work in the finance area. Then in 1997, Nancy joined the City of Mt. Pleasant to fill the Finance Director role. In 2014, she was appointed City Manager.
When asked what prompts someone to seek out a career in municipal government Ridley replied, “Local government, although challenging at times, is very rewarding because you are able to see the results of your work, every single day.” She continued, “Whether it is the water that comes out of our faucets, the condition of the streets and sidewalks, an extensive park system, public safety, redevelopment projects, or trash and recycling programs, these functions all serve as reminders of what we, as local government, are tasked with on a daily basis.”
Although water, streets, public safety and parks are a part of a resident’s daily experience, there is nothing routine about assuring these services are uninterrupted and of high quality. During her tenure as City Manager, more than $10 million was earmarked towards capital improvement projects for streets, water, sewer and the airport. Curbside recycling for rooming houses and multi-family residences was expanded, intersection and pedestrian lighting was enhanced throughout the city, 25 more miles to the sidewalk snow removal program were added, park amenities were upgraded, and accessibility was improved by constructing more sidewalks and bike routes. In addition, after receiving public input, the City Master Plan 2050 was developed and adopted, and the completion of the West Broadway Revitalization Project took place with the recent construction of the Broadway Lofts.
There are many challenges to being a City Manager, Ridley observed, “The biggest undertaking is meeting the needs of various groups such as; elected City Commissioners, city staff, residents/businesses and community partners. They all play vital roles, and balancing the needs of each group is extremely important and is not possible without strong partnerships.”
Throughout her past 7 years as City Manager, Ridley has strengthened affiliations with Central Michigan University, the Central Michigan District Health Department, Isabella County, Mt. Pleasant Public Schools, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and Union Township. A sampling of positive results flowing from this enhanced collaboration include: improving relationships between college students and residents in neighborhoods north of campus; four new grid streets connected to Mission Street to enhance safety; extending the non-motorized path through the south end of campus safely connecting Deerfield and Broomfield Roads; a cooperative COVID-19 response strategy; the establishment of Hannah’s Dog Park; the formation of both the Airport Joint Operations and Management Board and the Mid-Michigan Aquatic Recreational Authority.
Communication with community partners is key, and is also a major driver in the overall city staff culture set by Ridley. Reflecting on working with city staff Ridley shared, “I have enjoyed watching the growth and ingenuity of our staff members. We have been handed some tough issues and projects throughout the years and it always impressed me how staff, fueled by their dedication to city residents, would find creative solutions.”
Due to COVID precautions, a public retirement reception for Nancy Ridley will not be scheduled. Individuals are encouraged to send a note to her at 320 W. Broadway, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org before her final day scheduled for October 29.