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Mayors lay out what to expect in 2016

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published January 6, 2016

 The city of Ferndale will look to expand parking enforcement hours in 2016 after the time was set at 9 p.m. in 2013 as part of the rollout of the Ferndale Park+ system.

The city of Ferndale will look to expand parking enforcement hours in 2016 after the time was set at 9 p.m. in 2013 as part of the rollout of the Ferndale Park+ system.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FERNDALE — For the city of Ferndale, 2016 will see the work of the past few years pay off as several items come to fruition in the new year.

During the May election, Ferndale voters approved the renewal of a Headlee override that will help keep the city financially secure and a street and park improvement bond that replaced the infrastructure bond and will raise $45 million over its 15-year life.

Mayor Dave Coulter said that while the new dog park at Wilson Park was the first result of that bond, residents can expect to see more results.

“We started with the dog park (in 2015), but we will be on a pretty aggressive pace to add enhancements to all the parks in the city,” Coulter said. “We look for input from residents to prioritize items, but we are still looking at what to do at what parks and when. We know we want playscapes and walking paths, but there are some potentially larger features we are still vetting.”

In 2015, the Ferndale City Council and administration also worked with several ordinances and groups to help improve parking in the downtown area, including one plan that would have brought parking, office and residential structures to the Withington and West Troy street parking lots that the council ultimately shot down.

The project, which was called the 3-60 project, just wasn’t the right fit for Ferndale, Coulter said, as it was “too much at once” and would have disrupted the entire downtown.

“There is clearly a need for additional parking in our downtown, but also a desire to make that fit in a way that both matches the character of our city and brings other benefits, such as retail or housing,” Coulter said. “It is something we will continue to study so the next proposal incorporates lessons learned from the 3-60 development.”

Even if a new structure isn’t approved in 2016, parking changes are expected, as the city will look to expand parking enforcement hours. When the Ferndale Park+ system was rolled out, the end of enforcement was at 9 p.m., which was always meant to be temporary, Coulter said.

Working with the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, Coulter said the city hopes to figure out how to advance the system.

“Most large entertainment districts like ours have hours that last longer than 9 p.m. to make sure they capture revenue from the visitors that you hope to capture it from,” he said. “We paused that expansion during the rollout, but there will probably be a recommendation about different hours.”

 

Infrastructure improvements front and center for three cities

In Pleasant Ridge, 2015 saw the city focus on the streets, as the administration conducted several traffic-calming studies along Woodward Avenue and Ridge Road, as well as converting all 180 of the city’s streetlights to LED fixtures, which should save the city approximately $11,000 each year in lighting costs.

In the new year, Mayor Kurt Metzger said the focus will stay on the infrastructure as the city continues to improve the streets.

“We plan to continue adding to the improvements we made to the Woodward streetscape by adding new trees in empty tree wells and planting beds to soften the streetscape area,” he said. “The results of our Complete Streets test projects also indicate that permanent changes can be made to (Woodward ) and Ridge in a way that improves walkability while maintaining traffic flow at current levels.”

Parks will also be a big focus in Pleasant Ridge for 2016, as the city continues work on Gainsboro Park. The city had a study done on the park during the summer, and the city also purchased a piece of property on Kensington Boulevard, near the railroad, that will be converted into green space.

“We will undertake the largest recreation project since the rebuilding of our pool and community center as we redo and connect the multiple recreation spaces along the entire east side of our city,” Metzger said. “The city purchased a piece of property at the end of Kensington that will enable us to continue a park walkway that will connect to the community garden and dog parks.”

Infrastructure improvements are on the mind of Huntington Woods Mayor Bob Paul as well, as the city continues the televising and cleaning of the entire sewer system in 2016. When the project is completed, Paul said the city will have a better understanding of how to stabilize its system against major floods.

The city also will look to improve communications, Paul said — another move that was pushed for following the August 2014 flood.

“We will continue to implement a number of communication tools that rolled out (in 2015),” Paul said. “Telephone call alerts, city e-blasts, and Facebook and Twitter postings; we want to get more people signed up and paying attention to those messages, and work on awareness and registering people for these communication tools.”

Berkley officials will continue to look at their infrastructure, Mayor Phil O’Dwyer said, as several municipal buildings need improvements to heating and cooling, as well as the overall work environment.

However, the biggest task for Berkley in 2016 will be finding a new city manager. Former City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa resigned in October to take over the Pontiac deputy mayor position, and the city is working with the Michigan Municipal League to conduct a search for her replacement.

Bais-DiSessa had been with Berkley as city manager for 14 years, so O’Dwyer said that finding the right replacement is of the utmost importance.

“It is critical to get the right candidate; therefore, we do not want to rush the process,” he said. “It will be systematic and deliberate so we find somebody that fits the city. We have a team with superb department heads and employees who work collaboratively and cooperatively with the community, and what we need is a coach to keep all those systems moving in the right direction.”

O’Dwyer said the deadline for a candidate to apply is early January, but there is no deadline for when a new city manager will be selected.

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