Ferndale aims to get plan for new community center

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published February 7, 2024


FERNDALE — Ferndale has been without a community center since 2020, but the city hopes to make significant progress on a new building this year.

Due to the state of the building’s condition, the Kulick Community Center was shut down and hasn’t reopened since. Last year, the city’s lease on the building with Ferndale Public Schools was terminated, officially marking the end of the community center’s home at Kulick.

According to Parks and Recreation Director LaReina Wheeler, the closure of the community center — which also housed the entire department — changed their entire operation.

“We currently are in, like, a temporary office space until we can build our recreation facility or, you know, relocate into a building where we can actually be more better equipped to service the community,” she said. “We lost a lot of programs — mainly all of our on-site programs have been canceled. We’ve been working very heavily with some of our partners, such as Ferndale Public Schools and the Housing Commission and Hazel Park, to try to reinstate some programming, but it’s very limited.”

Wheeler said the seniors have been displaced since the closure and have been meeting at the Hazel Park Community Center, and the city has been working with the Ferndale Housing Commission to offer fitness classes as well.

“We’re able to utilize their room there to offer yoga; however, all of our other indoor enrichment programming that happens outside of the parks, we have to (wait) until we’re able to find space,” she said. “We get a lot of community support for wanting to get things back to where they were and offering more programs, and so we’ve just been trying to be very creative on how we can fill the void until we can have a full program again or offer some of our programs back that were very popular and that can meet our community needs today.”

So far, the city has secured $2.1 million in grant funding for a new facility, which would be located at Martin Road Park. In total, Ferndale expects the center to cost between $7 million and $8 million.

City Manager Joe Gacioch said the city has issued a request for proposal for design services for the future facility, and city officials hope to propose a contract for a design firm to the City Council by April.

“After that award is when you’ll see public engagement meetings happening that are working towards a conceptual design,” he said.

“The (city’s finance) committee is taking a look at doing the Headlee, but they’re also looking at what are the needs for new facilities. The community will have an opinion as to whether they want to match the funding,” Gacioch said.

Gacioch did state that a millage would be required to fund and build the rest of the facility.

“We’re gonna continue to look for grants, but at the end of the day, when you talk about new facilities, we’re talking about constructing them and we’re talking about paying for the staff to support those facilities.”