Dearborn City Planner John Nagy, who worked for the city for 61 years, passed away April 28. He was 84.
Nagy was involved in every major development in the city of Dearborn since the 1950s and had a vast knowledge of the city as well as individual properties.
Professional and precise in his dealings, he was universally respected and thought of fondly by the City Hall and City Plan Commission colleagues with whom he worked.
“It was impossible not to enjoy any interaction with John,” Mayor Jack O’Reilly said.
A lifelong Dearborn resident, Nagy was a Fordson High School graduate and attended Dearborn Junior College. He served in the U.S. Army from 1944-46.
Nagy was first hired in the City Plan Division in 1947 as a level-one draftsman. In 1953, he was appointed acting city planner by the Dearborn City Plan Commission. He became a planning technician in 1954.
In 1960, he was appointed Housing Commissioner by Mayor Orville Hubbard. The Dearborn City Council appointed him as urban renewal director in 1963.
He left Dearborn to become an assistant city planner in Livonia in 1964, but returned in 1967 to become the city planner following an appointment by the Plan Commission.
Over the decades, he worked closely with Ford Motor Land Development as it was developing much of the center of the city with offices, residential, retail and research facilities.
He was most proud of supervising the Operation Eyesore project, a program begun by Hubbard in the early 1960s in which substandard houses are purchased by the city, then sold for the construction of new homes, helping to keep the city’s housing stock attractive for young families. More than 1,300 properties were purchased in his time and about 600 new homes built.
Nagy was instrumental in the development of the first Dearborn Civic Center at Michigan and Greenfield, Dearborn’s senior citizen towers and the first master parking plan in the west Dearborn business district more than 40 years ago.
Nagy's honors have been as numerous as his contributions.
Several years ago, to honor him for his contributions to Dearborn, a road just south of City Hall was named John Nagy Drive. In 1994, he received the first Michigan Society of Planning Officials Community Planner of the Year Award.
“Whether you know it or not, all of Dearborn benefited from Mr. Nagy’s planning expertise,” said Mayor O’Reilly. “John clearly loved Dearborn and worked tirelessly to ensure its long term vitality.
“As Dearborn grew with new residential, retail, office or industrial complexes over the decades, he worked to make sure there was logic to the progress. He preserved the integrity of our neighborhoods while allowing for beneficial economic development,” O’Reilly said. “Beyond that, he is just an incredible example of a dedicated public servant, unmatched in 61 years of service to Dearborn."
Economic and Community Development Director Barry Murray, who has worked for the city for five years and often turned to Nagy as a resource, added, “John was truly a fountain of knowledge about the community and his passion for Dearborn was clear in the fond way he would recall a story about a development or planning process that improved his home town.”
Funeral arrangements are pending, but most likely will be held Monday, May 2.