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Farmington, Farmington Hills

January 2, 2014

A look at the community in 2013

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

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A look at the community in 2013
Swim team members await instructions during practice at Beechview July 2.
A sapling from the white chestnut tree that brought Anne Frank solace when she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II is planted in the courtyard outside the Anne Frank Tree Exhibit and Garden at the Holocaust Memorial Center.
 

The voters spoke their minds Nov. 5 when they voted down a $186.2 million two-part redesigned Farmington Public Schools bond proposal.

The two-part proposal was broken up into Proposal 1: safety, infrastructure and technology at $154.6 million; and Proposal 2: arts, athletics and technology replacements at $31.6 million.

Proposal 1 failed with 9,182 no votes, 50.68 percent, while 8,934 voters, or 49.32 percent, voted yes.

Proposal 2 failed with 53.7 percent, or 9,706, no votes, while 46.3 percent of voters said yes.

Voters denied the district’s original $222 million proposal in August by nearly 1,000 votes; the two-part bond proposal was 16 percent less than the original. If the two-part proposal had passed, the millages would have been levied in 2014.

According to the district’s website, Proposal 1 would have cost the owner of a $200,000 home with a $100,000 taxable value $132 per year, or $11 per month; Proposal 2 would have cost the same homeowner $45 annually — for a combined $177 per year for 25 years.

FARMINGTON HILLS WATER TOWER

Farmington Hills raised a $16.9 million, 200-foot water tower in early December, and is expected to rack up $400,000 worth of savings — roughly $3 million down the line — from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The tower is expected to be up and running June 1.

During a Nov. 25 City Council meeting, council members approved an amendment to a contract between the city and the DWSD for the supply of drinking water.

All of the water in the city’s public water mains comes from Detroit, according to www.dwsd.org. The DWSD, a branch of Detroit’s government, has treatment plants located along its system that take water from the Detroit River and Lake Huron and treat it to make it safe to drink. The water is then distributed in large water mains throughout metro Detroit.

The amended contract allows the city to adjust contract variables, Public Services Director Gary Mekjian said.

The new contract changes the city’s standing with the DWSD from being a “peak-hour” to a “maximum-day” customer because the city will now be able to store water. 

Last year, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to contract with Oakland County to finance the tower and the infrastructure improvements necessary to make it work. The county will issue an estimated $16.9 million in bonds to finance the tower, and the city will reimburse the county for the full cost. The county has a better bond rating than the city, so it can obtain a better interest rate.

According to Karen Mondora, civil engineer in the DPW, the water tower was approved last spring with the goal of saving residents from paying too much for their water. She added that the $16.9 million costs include other water system improvements.

ICE RINK

The city of Farmington is on its way to having a new ice rink at Riley Park, 33113 Grand River Ave. Originally slated to open during the week of Dec. 16, the city was waiting on power hookup and rescheduled to open the week of Dec. 30, according to City Manager Vincent Pastue.

Annette Knowles, executive director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority, said earlier in the year that the roughly 4,800-square-foot oval rink will hold about 100 skaters.

Knowles said during a media conference in November that when Riley Park opened eight years ago, an ice rink was not predicted at the time.

After a $100,000 donation from the George F. Riley Foundation for ice, the seed money helped push along the city’s dream.

The total cost to construct the refrigerated facility comes to $300,000; funds have also been raised for the ice rink to level out the costs.

Pastue said the city and the DDA are kicking in the remaining $50,000.

A committee was formed to direct a fundraising campaign.

FARMINGTON HISTORIC DISTRICT

The Farmington Historic District Study Committee recruited volunteers for a Historic District Study Committee in October.

The committee’s mission is to make a recommendation to the City Council regarding adopting a local historic district ordinance that complies with Michigan’s Local Historic Districts Act and to appoint a historic district commission to implement the ordinance.

The study committee will also be involved in writing the ordinance with the city attorney.

The nine-member Historical Commission is responsible for safeguarding the heritage of the city by preserving the cultural, social, economic, political and architectural elements of historic significance, among other responsibilities, according to www.ci.farmington.mi.us.

BOSTON MARATHON

Some residents of the area ran in the April 15 Boston Marathon that ended up with three people dead and more than 140 injured when bombs exploded at the annual event.

West Bloomfield resident Scott Goldstein and friend and fellow runner 58-year-old Bloomfield Hills resident Tom Artushin had to evacuate the area after the explosions.

“It was probably the scariest experience I’ve ever had, and I hope (for it) to never happen again,” Artushin, who waited for a little over an hour in the bleachers, said in April. “When we looked, there was such a loud boom and smoke, I thought the four-story building (across the street) exploded.”

“I was sad because I knew the marathon would never be the same and shocked because the marathon is such a great day, and to have something like this happen was terrible,” Goldstein said. Goldstein finished the race approximately 50 minutes before the bomb went off, but he said the felt the aftereffects, as did the thousands of runners and attendees. 

Prosecutors charged Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Boston Marathon bombings during a hearing April 22, one week after he allegedly detonated the pressure cooker bombs, according to a published report.  He faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction and 16 other charges, which could lead to the death penalty, according to published reports. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is reported to make the decision of the death penalty. Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also a suspect, reportedly died April 18 and was named in October as a participant in a triple homicide from September 2011, published reports state.

SUPERINTENDENT, BOARD MEMBER LEAVE

After 25 years in the school district, with 40 years total in education under her belt, Superintendent Susan Zurvalec plans to retire, citing focusing on her family as one of the main reasons behind her leaving.

The next phase for Zurvalec, superintendent for nine years, includes traveling and spending time with her retired husband, Dave, at her family cottage on Lake Huron.

The Board of Education will create a committee that will make recommendations to the board regarding the process for filling the superintendent vacancy.

Board of Education President Howard Wallach said the policy identifies himself, the board’s vice president, the immediate-past school board president and the superintendent as committee members.

He said the committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Education this month.

Farmington Public Schools Board of Education Trustee Priscilla Brouillette, first elected in 1996, plans to resign from the board in February to focus more on her family.

Brouillette, re-elected in 2000, ’04 and ’09, told the public her plans during a Dec. 10 Board of Education meeting.

Wallach said the board has until April 1 to fill Brouillette’s position. Wallach appointed a subcommittee comprising himself and fellow board members Sheilah Clay and Frank Reid to present a plan to fill the vacancy at the board’s Jan. 14, 2014, meeting.

C & G Staff Writer Cari DeLamielleure contributed to this report.

 

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.