Eight Mile Boulevard Association reviews past year, future

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 3, 2017

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FERNDALE — Ferndale’s City Council received a special presentation at its Feb. 13 meeting from the Eight Mile Boulevard Association on what the association did last year and what it plans for this year.

The Eight Mile Boulevard Association is a community development organization dedicated to the revitalization and promotion of the Eight Mile Road corridor that covers a span of 27 miles.

Executive Director Cindy Thomas said that some of the things the organization works on include trying to champion Eight Mile as a business destination and promoting projects such as Hands on Eight Mile, an annual corridor-wide beautification and cleanup project.

“We try to promote Eight Mile as a scene between communities, rather than the dividing line that it’s been seen as historically,” she said. “We initiate projects that have a tangible impact along the corridor, like facade improvement programs that try to improve the appearance of the block.”

Thomas said the association has its 18th annual 8MBA Leadership Luncheon coming up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, May 12, at Cobo Center in Detroit.

“It’s about 30 percent of our annual budget, and it features a riveting panel discussion with Mayor (Mike) Duggan, of Detroit, and the executives of the three counties,” she said. The three executives are Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

More information on this event can be found at www.eightmile.org.

Thomas spotlighted from last year the association’s 2016 Metro Detroit Home Expo, which, along with a job fair, brought together vendors for people who were looking to renovate their homes and buildings. The association also had the Congress for the New Urbanism looking at Eight Mile and Gratiot to address some of its problems and make recommendations for improved traffic flow.

The Congress for the New Urbanism, according to its website, is an “international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities where people have diverse choices for how they live, work and get around.”

Going forward, Thomas said, they’ll be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the movie “8 Mile” and the renovation of the Bel Air Luxury Cinema.

“We’re looking at a developers forum to bring together experienced and novice developers and showcase some of the vacant parcels and buildings that the municipalities have, and to start working on some safe crossings at the major intersections for pedestrians,” she said.

Thomas also mentioned that the organization will try to work more with block clubs and community groups, which Councilman Dan Martin was glad to hear.

“(Block clubs and community groups are) really healthy, and they really help pull people together,” Martin said.

“It’s another way for residents to engage in what’s going on in the city and government, but to do it collectively, as a neighborhood, for what they’d like. It can be very powerful. And the fact that the Eight Mile Boulevard Association is engaged in help cultivating that, I think, is terrific,” he said.

Martin said having an advocacy voice like the association is beneficial to the city.

“It’s nice to have a group kind of watching that and helping guide that and building a voice with the cities along Eight Mile to have that conversation about how we can be better,” he said.

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