DEARBORN HEIGHTS — With so many new changes in the city of Dearborn Heights, recently appointed Mayor Bill Bazzi has appointed a new building director.
Having been an employee in the Building Department for the last 27 years, Rick Watland has been through it all.
“I’ve been in construction all my working life,” he said. “I started as a contractor and I’ve been with the department for 27 years. When the old electrical inspector retired, he suggested it and I’ve been with the city since.”
While Watland was born and raised in Dearborn Heights, he now lives in Augusta Township.
“We moved because Dearborn Heights won’t let us have horses,” he said. “Other than moving here, I lived in Dearborn Heights my entire life.”
He’s the best and he knows the whole city. He has the experience and he’s more hands on, honest and fair. He’s great at what he does — Realtor Ali Charara
Watland said he was excited and happy that Bazzi approached him about the position.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go,” he said. “I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work. I’m more customer service-centered and I treat everyone the same way.”
Originally, Watland was planning to retire, but decided he is right where he needs to be.
“I was going to retire because I didn’t like the direction things were going,” he said. “I’m hoping to get people back, builders who have left. And I want to get customer service back.”
Watland also said he has already started making some changes.
“We started scanning all old files into the BS&A system to help clean up the office and make things easier for residents,” he said. “Also, previously, if you called the Building Department you’d have to call between certain, limited hours of the day, but now calls are forwarded to our cell phones so we can be more available. If the residents have a problem we will work them out.”
Watland said being offered the position was the first time he ever met Bazzi.
“I thought I was being fired at first,” he said. “But I was excited and it felt pretty good to be offered this position. I’m trying to get things running smoother and communicating. Nothing in the department is a secret anymore.”
Bazzi said that Watland is a great asset.
“Rick’s performance among his colleagues and his superb customer service to the residents has been exemplary,” he said. “His leadership and conduct is an asset to the Building Department and the city at large.”
Ali Charara, a realtor in the community for 16 years, has known Watland since he became a realtor.
“Rick has been there a long time,” he said. “He’s the best and he knows the whole city. He has the experience and he’s more hands on, honest and fair. He’s great at what he does.”