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 The Ferndale City Council decided to move forward with upgrades to Schiffer Park, but the upgrades will not include a previously planned seat platform and planters, which were removed because of budget constraints.

The Ferndale City Council decided to move forward with upgrades to Schiffer Park, but the upgrades will not include a previously planned seat platform and planters, which were removed because of budget constraints.

Photo by Mike Koury

Despite changes, Ferndale council approves Schiffer Park improvements

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 10, 2020

FERNDALE — Improvements to Schiffer Park finally will be on the way this year, after the Ferndale City Council unanimously approved a bid proposal for work on the site.

The council approved, at its Feb. 24 meeting, a contract with WCI Contractors Inc. for its involvement in upgrades to Schiffer Park, which is located beside the FerndaleHaus apartments at Planavon Street and West Nine Mile Road, for $357,700.

The city previously had been having trouble getting bids back that were within its budget for the project. After multiple attempts, the city received a bid from WCI in January that was within budget — but at the cost of certain park amenities.

Previously, Schiffer Park’s improvements included a seating platform, installation of trees and the removal of the right-turn-only lane on Planavon Street to expand the park’s footprint.

The new design will not include the seat platform and some planters, which were removed because of budget restraints, said Parks and Recreation Director LaReina Wheeler. Instead, there was a plan for a turf mound — later removed from the plan — landscaping and wood cladding around the existing tree planters box.

If funding is secured in the future, a seat platform can be installed on the site at a later time.

“When you think turf mound, it’s basically a grass area with the mound on it,” she said, “which would still allow for what we intended with the seat platform, which could be elevated seating, lounge areas for lunchtime, activation space, as well as event space.”

The project costs will see $183,000 coming from the city of Ferndale, up to $205,000 from the Downtown Development Authority and $90,000 from FerndaleHaus, totaling $478,000.

Wheeler said the city is being very cautious in its spending and trying to be as cost efficient as possible. As such, the city is relying on its Department of Public Works to do a portion of the project to save costs, and the remaining funds will be used for some of the amenities that go in the park that weren’t included in the bid proposal.

“DPW will be doing the demolition, as well as installing the pavers,” Wheeler said. “WCI will be doing the prep work and the grading for the pavers — for the installation of the pavers — and DPW actually will be installing them. DPW also will be doing the landscaping and installing the trees and amenities, such as the planter boxes with the benches, drinking fountain ... and the turf in the grass area.”

“(WCI will) be doing all the earthwork, curb and gutter, basically the park expansion, which includes the curb and gutter work, as well as the roadwork, resurfacing, electrical, lighting, irrigation and some utility,” Wheeler continued.

Several council members had reservations about going with the mound instead of the seat platforms, with some wondering if they should just have a flat, grassy surface instead.

Councilwoman Laura Mikulski said she had concerns about the park and its costs, and she also shared her dislike of the mound.

“I understand that kids might enjoy it. I just don’t feel like it’ll activate the space the way that we’ve outlined here with Frisbee and bocce and lawn games and things of that nature,” she said. “I know there’s a turf area there, but with the mound right next to it, I don’t see that necessarily working out.”

“I do think that we should activate that park,” Mikulski said. “I do think that it’s important to have a space in the downtown that’s a recreational sort of space, and it does go along with our master plan. I’m just disturbed by the cost.”

Mayor Melanie Piana and Councilwoman Kat Bruner James shared similar concerns about the mound. The item was passed by the council with an addendum that City Manager Joe Gacioch and the design team had discretion to change the mound to a flat surface after more conversations.

Several days after the meeting, Wheeler told the Woodward Talk that it was decided the city will go with a flat surface at the park.

“I am really looking forward to Schiffer Park being a real park,” James said. “I’m looking forward to having added greenspace downtown, additional trees downtown and a space for community events in a way that we haven’t had access to before.”

The cost estimate for the project will remain the same without a mound, said Gacioch.