Norton Shores Mayor Gary Nelund delivered a fascinating presentation about the City of Norton Shores. This is the same Gary Nelund who we all know and love… Rotarian, mayor, insurance agent, past Club president, Paul Harris Fellow, bon vivant, community socialite, etc.
He looked great and he was well prepared with pages of factual details. But there was something different about him…something that altered our mindsets and caused us to listen a little more attentively. Perhaps it was the socks. He intentionally avoided wearing his signature colorful, flamboyant socks. Maybe it was the jokes that we expected; he immediately informed us that there would be no jokes to preface his presentation. So last week, our speaker was Gary Nelund, the Mayor of Norton Shores…period.
Mayor Nelund started by sharing some historical facts about the City of Norton Shores. “The City covers a 24.5 square mile area, and has a population of 24,430 residents.” Originally organized as Norton Township in 1945, the municipal area included Spring Lake Township and was part of Ottawa County. In 1859 Norton Township separated from Ottawa County and became part of Muskegon County.
“We became a city on April 16, 1968 and will celebrate our 50 year semi-centennial next year,”
quipped the mayor. He highlighted some impressive statistics about the city’s financial state and economic stability. Norton Shores’ annual state equalized value totals approximately $960 million. (Wow, almost a billion dollars!) “The building division issued 2,385 permits at a total construction value of $39M…Existing businesses in the city have created 107 new full-time jobs since December 2016,” the Mayor proudly boasted.
Gary touched on the serious issue of the City’s unfunded pension liabilities, and then shared that major steps are being taken to remedy the situation.
He concluded his presentation with details about the Seminole Road Place plans and redevelopment strategies. The focus area is Norton to Seminole, and Henry to Seaway; and includes the old Kmart and East Towne properties.
Most of us were mesmerized and inspired by the presentation. It confirmed much of what we already knew; that the City of Norton Shores is a thriving and exemplary municipal organization. And that Gary the Mayor is a gem, even though his socks this week were quite ordinary

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