Residents of Ferndale, Michigan need to let their elected Council members know what they think about the alternative plans for renovating our city buildings and the possibility of moving Ferndale City Hall.
Within the next five weeks or so, the Ferndale City Council may decide between two plans that will determine the look of our downtown for the next few decades.
The "New City Hall" plan involveds buying the second floor of the Credit Union One Bank building on E. Nine Mile Road next to the police station and building it out, creating a possible new entrance on the west side of the bank, with elevators, and moving the entire city hall and its departments and offices into that space at a cost of between $2.5 million and $3 million. Then the current city hall would be completely renovated for the 43rd District Court and the expansion of the police department at a cost of around $4.5 million. Total cost of this plan is estimated at between $7.5 and $8 million.
The "Phased Plan" would purchase the OLHSA building for the Court next door and renovate and expand that space at a cost of between $1.5 million and $2 million. City Hall would remain where it is, and over time, it could be renovated. The police department would also be expanded and renovated. These costs could add up to $4 million, but could be done over time, phased in and done as needs and funds permit.
Everyone agrees the Court is in terrible need of moving. But not everyone believes that City Hall needs to be renovated or expanded right now. Most of us agree that the police department is in need of more room.
Proponents of the Credit Union One plan say it is innovative, and plans long term for development on the north side of 9 Mile Road where the old court and Olhsa sits now.
They believe we need more room for all three entities: the Court the Police Dept. and the City Hall. They say the funds are available, and want to commit the resources now.
Opponents of that plan wish to move the Court next door to OLHSA next door and preserve the current City Hall. They believe the plan is much less expensive, and prefer to do the work in phases. They do not like the concept of moving the City Hall into a private corporate building where visibility and access may be reduced.
I prefer the OLHSA plan because it preserves these buildings. It reuses what we have instead of building a new City Hall. It is less expensive, and prioritizes our needs by focusing first on the Court. It follows the concept of "fix it first", retro-fitting exisitng structures which is environmentally more friendly, rather the incurring the costs and materials of creating a new city hall within the bank. Finally, this plan preserves our City Hall as a stand-alone symbol of the City of Ferndale. Rather than locate the "people's" city hall inside a bank building, it keeps it independent and visible.
Good people can disagree, and this issue has proponents on both sides. I believe it is important for the people of Ferndale to weigh in now on this issue. Your elected Council members should hear from the voters and residents, regardless of which side one favors. The issue involves the city's (your) buildings, the look of your downtown, your tax dollars, and the very face of your government.