Ferndale has been wanting to improve the Kulick Community Center. One of the updates highlighted by Mayor Dan Martin is the need for a new boiler, seen here.

Ferndale has been wanting to improve the Kulick Community Center. One of the updates highlighted by Mayor Dan Martin is the need for a new boiler, seen here.

Photo by Mike Koury

Ferndale, school district discuss sale of community center land, building

‘There’s nothing final with it’

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published December 23, 2019


FERNDALE — The future of Ferndale’s Gerry Kulick Community Center has been an ongoing discussion in the city.

Late last year, the City Council approved a task force to review potential upgrades for the more-than 90-year-old center. The ideas included either a simple renovation of new heating, new floors and a new paint job; adding on to the community center at its current site, 1201 Livernois St.; or building a new community center at Martin Road Park.

The recommendation by the committee in March was to build a new center at Martin Road Park, though the decision wasn’t unanimous and the city still wanted to hold more meetings and gather information from the residents.

As Ferndale reaches the end of the year, a decision on what to do with the Kulick Center is still up in the air. A main factor in why, according to Mayor Dan Martin, is that the city is trying to determine if it wants to purchase the community center building and the land that it sits on.

The Kulick Community Center formerly was a Ferndale Public Schools building. As such, the school district actually owns the building and the land, which the city leases for $1 a year.

Clearly, Martin stated, Ferndale wants and needs a community center for its senior programs and parks and recreation programming.

“The building’s in rough shape,” he said. “It’s old. The boiler’s in need of major work. The building is in need of major work, so there just comes a point, the question we struggle with is, do we invest so much money into a building we don’t actually own, or do we look for an alternative site for a new community center?”

If the city does stay at Livernois Street, the property ownership issue is something Ferndale needs to resolve, Martin said. He also commented that there are other private properties the city potentially could use to construct a new center, but discussions in that area haven’t progressed that far.

“I think we need to resolve this ownership issue,” he said. “We’ve got some money to put into the boiler for this winter to keep it going, and then I know the advisory commission that we have … reconvened a bit back to take a look at it again.

“I think (City Manager Joe Gacioch is) going to be ready for a recommendation here soon, depending on if we can resolve the property issue or not.”

Ferndale Public Schools Director of Communications and Pupil Services Bill Good confirmed that these discussions have been “ongoing.” He also mentioned that the district has spoken with the city on other property arrangements that the two have, including parts of the football and baseball fields that the city owns and allows the high school to use.

“There are ongoing discussions to figure out the best way to rectify all these weird property arrangements we have, but … there’s nothing final with it at all,” he said.

Good said that there’s interest in trying to come to a more straightforward agreement. With the district’s bond vote coming up in March 2020, if it decided to do anything on land that is owned by Ferndale, then the two entities would have to work on arranging a 50-year lease before the district could use bond funds.

“If we wanted to redo the track, we would have to get a 50-year lease signed by the city to allow us to work on that,” he said. “Just to get rid of all that red tape and fix it so it works for us and works for them. There’s definitely conversations going on, but I can’t comment on how serious they are, how far along they are, but we are working with the city to try to find a good solution for both of us.”

The City Council approved at its Dec. 16 meeting its capital improvement plan, which is a five-year road map for planning and funding public facilities and infrastructure for fiscal years ending 2021-25.

The capital improvement plan details the monetary investments Ferndale expects to make on future projects. That includes anything related to updates at the Kulick Center.

For its fiscal years 2021-23, the city has general-fund money delegated for the Kulick Center at $1.15 million, $1 million and $4 million, respectively.

While the capital improvement plan isn’t official in the exact amount of money that would be spent on projects, as the council still has to approve budgets, Martin said it is official in that it is the city’s plan and it communicates to residents and others what the city is thinking and what it is expecting to spend.

“We have to build budgets with some kind of assumption, even if that assumption changes at some point. So we put it in with the renovations of the Kulick (Center) as a placeholder to get an idea of what, from a capital expenditure, we should be planning for,” he said.

“If the status quo remains and we stay at Kulick, that’s what we think we’re going to spend,” Martin said.