Ferndale assistant city manager leaves position proud of past work

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 1, 2023

 Assistant City Manager Kyle Pollet will work his last day in Ferndale on Sept. 7 after four years on the job.

Assistant City Manager Kyle Pollet will work his last day in Ferndale on Sept. 7 after four years on the job.

Image provided by the city of Ferndale


FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale recently honored outgoing Assistant City Manager Kyle Pollet, who will serve his last day on Sept 7.

At its Aug. 28 meeting, the City Council gave public service recognition to Pollet for his work in Ferndale since he became assistant city manager in 2019.

In an interview conducted over email, Pollet reflected on his time with Ferndale. When asked about projects that he was proud to have had a hand in during his four years, he discussed his first task as assistant city manager, which was to negotiate the purchase of Martin Road Park from Hazel Park schools, which enabled the city to proceed with the park’s splash pad project.

“By the time we obtained the land, we were well into the COVID-19 pandemic, causing delays in finding qualified contractors to build the pad,” he stated. “With support from Parks and Rec and DPW staff, we persisted in moving the plan forward until we were able to build and open the splash pad in the summer of 2022. The splash pad is certainly the most public project I led but I am also proud of my work on the city’s capital improvement plan, program-based budgeting initiative, and budget process. These contributions will continue to impact the city long after I’m gone.”

Two years into his time with Ferndale, in 2021, Pollet was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is a nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and causes the loss of muscle control.

In living with the disease for the last two years, Pollet said it hasn’t affected his ability to work as one might think, as most of his work is centered around managing staff, projects and strategic goals.

“Though my mobility is reduced as the disease progresses, ALS doesn’t damage mental functioning, allowing me to mentor staff or build a report for council despite physical disability. At this point, I use a walker to get around, so any accommodations I require are no different than a wheelchair user or otherwise physically disabled staff member.”

Because city management requires a lot out of a person, Pollet felt it was time to leave his role as assistant city manager.

“Every day involves whiplash, jumping from budget to an HR issue, park improvements to a police situation, etc. The job requires prioritizing the city whenever and wherever you are,” he said. “I’m now at a point where I would rather prioritize myself and my loved ones over my career (despite how much I enjoy it). I feel like I’ve made a marked contribution to our community through my time serving Macomb and Oakland residents. I’m content in walking away knowing that.”

Pollet was Joe Gacioch’s first hire after he officially became city manager in 2019. Gacioch said Pollet was instrumental in how Ferndale was able to respond to troubles that impacted the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were really working closely on a day-to-day basis trying to navigate all of the changes in policy and rules and changes that we would have to make, staffing changes and staffing communications we’d have to make,” he said. “Kyle was really attached to the hip as a partner. He was vital to helping us work through that. Beyond that, he’s fundamentally improved our systems through the budget process and capital planning.”

Gacioch said what Pollet especially brought to the table was “acumen with analysis” and his ability to understand information in a way that “fundamentally changed the way” Ferndale plans for capital.

“Kyle implemented a capital improvement program and helped us organize and project needs over a six-year basis,” he said. “He created a system to help us prioritize major critical investments that align with our new program-based budgeting. So he put a logic on the capital plan that, before Kyle, I don’t know that we were in a position to implement.

“Why that’s important is because here we are today working through a facilities task force with long-term facilities needs and we have a basis now to make recommendations and arguments based on Kyle’s work with the capital plan, and it completely aligns with the budget process,” he continued. “So, with his skill sets and his views on things — his sensibilities on things were what enabled us to be in this position. That’s a cool thing about the government. His fingerprints are on the system now. They’re all over the system. If you look at our budget, if you look at our capital plan, it’s all him. It’s all there.”

Echoing Gacioch’s sentiments, Mayor Melanie Piana said Pollet brought much depth to his role as assistant city manager, and she highlighted his ability to create change in Ferndale’s budgeting system, as well as his help with responsibilities outside the city.

“I always relied on him for his political astuteness on strategy as well as helping me prepare for my White House visit with elected officials, Vice President Harris, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm,” she said. “He’s always helped me prepare for my role as mayor and he’s been a tremendous partner.”

Pollet said local government is the crucible where service and policy meet, and being able to see the results of decisions made by their team affect the quality of life for Ferndale residents has been rewarding.

“It is hard to run a city, but it is worth it when you see the positive impact you can make,” he said.