Next, Birmingham’s senior center, offers several engaging activities for seniors throughout the week.

Next, Birmingham’s senior center, offers several engaging activities for seniors throughout the week.

Photo by Patrisha O’Blenes

Looking ahead: Senior center, park renovation, therapy dog projects still in the works

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 11, 2023


In 2022, the Eagle covered an array of interesting stories, some of which we thought readers might want an update on.


Birmingham Next’s relocation
In July, City Manager Tom Markus mentioned in an Eagle story that Next, Birmingham’s senior center, was considering relocating from the property they are currently occupying at 2121 Midvale St.

Their current location is owned by Birmingham Public Schools.

“We were hoping and have been hoping for quite a while to be able to work with the schools and enter into a long-term lease that would allow us some modifications and building so we could serve seniors better, because we are definitely outgrowing our building,” Next Director Christine Braun said.

Braun said they were waiting on BPS’s strategic plan in May; however, when BPS found a $14 million deficit, the district decided that they needed to conduct more studies before they would give any indication of what the future of Next would be with BPS.

“We are again hopeful we can stay here in Midvale, but we have no news as to if and when that will be possible,” Braun said.

In the meantime, the Birmingham City Commission passed a resolution for Markus to work with Braun to explore other options outside of the schools as possible future locations for Next. Markus and Braun have been talking to people in the community with property that could have the potential to be useful to Next.

Although Braun said she did not have anything concrete to share, she said they are actively pursuing alternate paths.

A new senior or community center is also one of the top priorities of the new Birmingham Strategic Plan.

“I know the city and the commission are also looking forward to us having a place where we can serve seniors properly,” Braun said.


Beverly Park playground
In June, Beverly Hills Village Clerk Kristin Rutkowski and parks and recreation board member Janice Hausman shared with the Eagle some preliminary plans for replacing the Beverly Park playground. At the time, the Village had sent out a survey and was considering grant opportunities.

“The whole process ended up taking a whole lot longer than we envisioned,” Hausman said.

However, she said they are getting close to the point where they are ready to present their preferred vendor to the Village Council.

Since Hausman said the project is also pricier than what they had envisioned, they are working hard to secure some grants.

So far they have applied for a grant through the Department of Natural Resources and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund through the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. They are also applying for a grant through T-Mobile and a recreation grant through Oakland County.

“One of the things we were very surprised about was the cost of surfacing for the playground,” Hausman said. “We wanted to update ours to be a little bit more accessible, and that really raised the cost, so we are hoping some of those grants will help cover that.”

Hausman was not comfortable disclosing an estimated budget at this time, since it has not yet been brought to the village. They have a meeting planned this month to present their plans.

“I think everyone should look forward to a fantastic new playground,” Hausman said.


Birmingham Public Schools therapy dogs
In June, Birmingham Public Schools and the Birmingham Rotary Club discussed their efforts to place therapy dogs at Birmingham Public Schools.

The Rotary Club has been working towards helping fund service dogs to work at BPS and help improve students’ mental health.

The Birmingham Rotary Club’s recent grant funding success supporting the Therapy Dog Project includes a $5,358 donation from the Eagles for Children nonprofit with Birmingham schools.

West Maple School will be the school to benefit from this funding.

The Board of Education will accept the donation at a Jan. 18 board meeting.

“With this recent funding success, we have provided over $32,000 towards the Therapy Dog Project,” Birmingham Rotary Club Public Relations Chair John Westerheide said in an email. “Together with outside funds raised by BPS, this represents four therapy dogs for the school system.”

Westerheide said that the Birmingham Rotary Club’s role going forward will be changing as BPS has secured separate funding through Oakland County.  The Birmingham Rotary Club plans to meet with  BPS representatives soon to better understand their future needs on this project.