Editions

By Sara E. Teller

HAZEL PARK’S CITY COUNCIL consists of members Alissa Sullivan, Andy LeCureaux, and Beth Holland. Mayor Michael Webb also represents the City, along with Mayor Pro Tem Amy Aubry.

Alissa Sullivan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy LeCureaux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beth Holland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief of Police, Bucholz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Michael Webb

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy Aubry

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In my opinion, the Hazel Park City Council is a bit of a checks-and-balances system,” explained Council member Alissa Sullivan. “We’re tasked with looking at current deficiencies, and finding and suggesting creative and effective solutions while being fiscally responsible. We oversee budgets, permits for new businesses, and find creative solutions for issues that our residents face. We also seek out volunteer opportunities, education opportunities and resources for our residents.”

Mayor Webb has served on the Hazel Park City Council since 2001. Prior to that service, he was a planning commissioner for several terms. He is also a visible presence in Hazel Park as the owner of Taylor Auto Maintenance, located on John R Rd. “I’m still a technician. My wife works the front desk, and my son-in-law is in the back. I’ll call my two daughters in here if we need them!”

Webb is a long-time Hazel Park resident. “I married my wife at 19, and we bought a house here. I had gone to school to be an auto technician, and got into politics by volunteering in the community,” he said. “I began coaching little league soccer and baseball.”

He added, “Hazel Park is a friendly city with a good base of culturally diverse people. The continuity of the community is the most important thing. We need to reach out to our neighbors and work with each other to achieve a unified goal of living together. If we don’t teach kids how to grow together and work together, society could be hurting. We need to look beyond the present, and focus on our children and the future.”

He said there have been some changes since he took office. “We’ve gotten some new investments, and there are new prospective buildings and, hopefully, new jobs coming. There have been road improvements and some redevelopment work. Over the years, Hazel Park has seen many new businesses come in, retail and restaurants. The 8 Mile and Dequindre area has really turned around.”

He credits the change to the centralized location of the city, which has drawn millennials to the area. “Millennials are moving into the area and starting families, because we’re ten minutes from downtown Detroit, and they can easily commute east or west, even north, to work. There’s colleges all around to further their education.”

SULLIVAN SAYS THE ONGOING COLLABORATION between the Mayor, City Council members and staff, as well as the public safety department heads, allows for Hazel Park to effectively implement proposed community improvements. “City Council has a great freedom in the ideas we can present, and then the City’s staff lets us know how we can achieve these goals together,” she explained. “I think each Council member brings their own set of experiences and skills to the ideas.”

“While I am newly elected, my experience has been that the city and department heads are very helpful,” she said. “I’ve seen issues that I felt needed to be addressed; for instance, the newly-applied-for Hope-Not-Handcuffs program.”

Hope-Not-Handcuffs is a program that seeks to get addicts into treatment centers rather than having them arrested and incarcerated. Addicts choose to turn themselves in at participating police departments or submit a form on the Families Against Narcotics web site. From there, a desk officer at the station will call for a program volunteer who will sit with the individual and help them get into a program. The idea is to help addicts long-term, thus curtailing the nation’s addiction epidemic, rather than simply working to get those who abuse drugs off the streets for a limited period of time.

“I researched the benefits of this for our city and residents. I spoke with another local municipality and the director of the program there. They have had great success with this in their department. And then I presented the information I had to the City Manager, City Attorney, and the Chief of Police,” Sullivan said. “I got the ‘ball rolling,’ as they say, and let the department heads know this is a program that is available at no cost to the city or residents and has been successful and well-received in other communities as well.”

“From there, Hope-Not-Handcuffs gained support from other community members, and Chief of Police, Bucholz, recently announced that Hazel Park applied for participation and expects the application to be accepted within the next three to six months.”

SULLIVAN SAID THE MAIN PRIORITY OF THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL truly is to provide for Hazel Park residents and make it a better place. Sullivan is happy to be involved at a time when Hazel Park is finally moving out of a budget deficit and can adequately focus on instituting new programs and services that will benefit everyone in the area.

“Our overall goal is to provide the best practices and services that we can for our residents. It’s great to be a part of this turning point – getting past survival mode and moving into enrichment and growth for our city. It’s exciting to see what we can achieve,” Sullivan explained.

As far as other projects in the works, Sullivan said, “We are currently working on the approval process for the medical marijuana licensing here in the city. Additionally, as a member of the Hazel Park Arts Council – the vice president – and co-chair of the Hazel Park Art Fair committee, my personal goals are to bring art in all its forms to my neighbors and neighborhoods.”

There are a few arts-related events scheduled to return or be rolled out for the first time very soon. “We’re currently in the planning stages of the 7th annual Hazel Park Art Fair,” (#hazelparkartfair) she said. The ArtOber Art Walk will return in October, and the Arts Council also partners with the Hazel Park Growers & Makers Market, hosting an arts and crafts booth.

Sullivan is hoping to implement an animal-focused initiative as well. “I’m also personally working on a low to no-cost TNR (trap, neuter, return) initiative with an ordinance that I hope other cities will be able to duplicate easily for their communities,” she explained. Trap-neuter-return is a program in which free-roaming cats are temporarily captured, spayed or neutered, and returned to the location in which they are found. If the location is unsafe or otherwise deemed unfit, the cat may be relocated. Some are taken to farm houses or placed in animal shelters or foster care for eventual adoption into homes as companion animals. This program has been used to keep the stray cat population to a minimum, while offering a better life to those that are rescued.

Sullivan said she has a long history of volunteerism, and her background lends well to her current position. “I personally come from a grassroots volunteer background and draw my experience from that. So, new ideas and getting them accomplished with little to no budget are things I pride myself on being successful at.”

SHE BRIEFLY MENTIONED THE CLOSING OF THE FAMOUS HAZEL PARK RACEWAY and the city’s future plans for the site. “As you know, just recently, the city lost a landmark with the closing of the Hazel Park race track. This, however, has opened up the opportunity for land development by a great construction partner here in the city, which will allow for new business. Also, because of the new construction, there will be an increase in the tax base for that property. The possibility of more local jobs is great for our residents and the local economy as well.”

Sullivan encourages Hazel Park residents to get involved in current and upcoming projects, or just share their input on newly instituted projects and ideas. The Mayor and Council continually take into consideration new ideas from local community members.

Sullivan said, “Attend council meetings and speak at them, volunteer, or email in your ideas. Organize a fundraiser for your favorite local non-profit. Participate in community activities and events. The Friends of the Hazel Park Library have great free kids events – and some for parents and adults, too. We have great community partners who host car shows, barbecues, and other events throughout the year. Sign up for the Hazel Park City email to stay informed.”

She added the best thing to do is to attend meetings, “ask questions and let us know what you need to be successful. We’ll see if we can help you accomplished that.”

For more information on Hazel Park’s City Council or Mayor or any of the Council’s current programs, please visit www.hazelpark.org or call 248.546.7000.

By Sara E. Teller

FEW PEOPLE COME AS QUALIFIED FOR THEIR POSITION as Hazel Park City Manager Edward Klobucher. Prior to becoming city manager, he served as Hazel Park’s acting city manager, assistant city manager, acting city clerk and special projects coordinator. A lifelong resident of Hazel Park, he was appointed city manager in
February of 2002 in the middle of a serious municipal budget crisis. Klobucher credits the City Council and cooperative employee bargaining units for his ability to present a balanced budget for the following fiscal year.

When asked about the economic outlook for the city, Klobucher shares that Hazel Park has enjoyed resurgence in the past few years with the addition of dining and entertainment venues such as Joe Bar/Frame and Mable Gray. Existing businesses have been renovated, like Kozy Lounge; and other mainstays in the city, like House of Shamrocks and Loui’s Pizza are thriving. From a dining, entertainment, and night-on-the-town perspective, Hazel Park is doing quite well, and continuing to field inquiries from people interested in bringing new venues to the city.

The biggest economic development news this year is the closing of the Hazel Park Raceway. The most visible and an iconic landmark, for many years it was the most important business in the city. In the 1950s, the race track provided nearly 50 percent of the City’s general fund revenues. The importance of the raceway cannot be overstated. The revenue it provided was down to 25 percent in 1980s. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of casino gambling in the state of Michigan, the popularity of horse racing declined in the 2000s and accelerated dramatically until the track closed earlier this year. By that time, it provided fewer than two percent of the City’s general fund revenue.

Ashley Capital is the organization which developed the Tri-County Commerce Center in part of the raceway property. They also recently purchased the remaining raceway property, and plan two more industrial developments by Spring 2019.

Hazel Park cut the ribbon on the Tri-County Commerce Center last year. Since it opened, it has attracted an Amazon fulfillment center, Bridgewater Auto Interiors, LG Electronics, and it is also where they will be building the battery for the new, fully-electric Chevy Volt. That will bring about 200 jobs to the region. Hazel Park has been very successful with the first Ashley Capital development.

AS OF THIS WRITING, KLOBUCHER SHARED THAT THE CITY IS IN THE PROCESS of licensing establishments who will grow, process, test, transport and provide medical marijuana to Michigan residents. They are currently in the review-and-selection process for the multiple license applications. There will be a study session and lots of committee involvement. Although Klobucher is unable to provide an exact number, there are multiple licenses for each of the four business categories, depending upon the category and type of license. Council, by resolution, may expand or shrink the number of licenses being considered. Currently they are looking at four of every classification, but that number is not final.

The City of Hazel Park is currently in the process of updating its Master Plan. They will be completing that work after they finish the burdensome process of the medical marijuana establishments.

Hazel Park has become a magnet for entrepreneurs. Klobucher conveys that he is very lucky to work for a good City Council and to have energetic entrepreneurs who believe in and invest their time and resources into Hazel Park.

“The cool thing about the new entrepreneurs opening businesses in Hazel Park, like Chef James Rigato of Mabel Gray, is that they are very community-minded,” Klobucher says.

Also home to the only suburban community Promise Zone in Metro Detroit, the Federal government has targeted Hazel Park for support and partnered with the local leaders in Hazel Park to improve educational opportunities. Promise Zone Scholarships are available through the Local College Access Network (LCAN). Every student that graduates from Hazel Park High School is guaranteed money to attend Oakland Community College for two years. This is changing and improving the educational opportunities for Hazel Park students.

When asked about the future of his city, Klobucher sees Hazel Park thriving. The city has an opportunity to build lasting prosperity.

“We can continue to have outstanding facilities: EMS, police, roads, city services. We can have a community full of happy residents living fulfilling lives,” Klobucher says. “I want to make life better for the HP residents.”

By Sara E. Teller

THE MISSION OF HAZEL PARK’S COMMUNITY COALITION is “to reduce youth substance abuse and support a healthy environment … in Hazel Park.” The team is dedicated to “reducing the abuse of illegal drugs, alcohol, and pills among not only our teen population but our community as a whole.”

In order to carry out this mission, the group works under the State-funded umbrella organization, Alliance Coalitions for Healthy Communities, and hosts a variety of campaigns, rainings, and after-school events, while publishing a wealth of literature designed to spread awareness.

“My hope is to create an impact, and start a wave that will wash over the entire Hazel Park community,” said Jared Gajos, the group’s Executive Director. “The Coalition was first thought of in October 2016 and was set in stone in March 2017. So we’ve really only been around for a little more than a year and already we’re seeing some positive effects.”

THE COMMUNITY COALITION initially sent out an assessment to determine what the biggest substance abuse issues are in Hazel Park. The group surveyed high schoolers and community members, and determined the primary focus need-ed to be on marijuana and alcohol. From there, the Coalition encouraged individuals to come forward and offer ideas for curtailing these issues. At the same time, they began to offer information not only geared toward the issue itself, but ancillary sub-stance abuse issues as well.

“We wanted to put out information on all of the effects. For instance, let’s say you have kids, under-go back surgery, and are given a bottle of Vicodin. You take a few and put the rest up in your cup-board. Are you checking that they’re all still there? Counting the pills? Who’s to say your loved ones aren’t selling them? If you see a student with a plastic bottle filled with clear liquid, do you assume it’s water? Don’t take things for granted. Open up lines of communication.”

There was some hesitation from the community to come forward at first. “In the beginning, students weren’t sure if they should get involved,” Gajos explained. “But we kept pushing the fact that we’re not a police force. We’re here to offer information, a helping hand. Eventually, more and more parents and students felt comfortable getting involved.”

The organization has been able to offer a variety of fun events. “Recently, we decided to begin hosting an alternative spring break, winter break, and mid-winter break,” Gajos said. “We partnered with Hazel Park’s ice arena and offered dollar-skate days. This got people out of the house and offered them an affordable activity.”

Gajos, who graduated from Hazel Park High School in 2013, now has an office inside the school, making him easily accessible to students hoping to open up about their concerns. He attended Michigan State University, graduating in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and minors in French and international peace and justice.

“When I graduated, I got an offer to interview for the Coalition position and decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did,” he said. “I’m not a licensed counselor but I can offer information and resources to those interested.” He is also employed at the City offices, assisting with social media and outreach, and promotes Community Coalition events through the city pages.

IN THE COMING MONTHS, the organization is hoping to address the issue of vaping as well,garnering support from local and statewide govern-mental offices. This is a topic that will continue to be on the table in coming meetings. “We meet up with all of the groups in the area once a month to talk about what’s working and what’s not and offer recommendations. It’s all about starting a dialogue and helping the community in any way we can.”

Volunteers hoping to get involved in Hazel Park’s Community Coalition events can email Gajos at jared.gajos@hazelparkschools.org. “As specific as the organization’s goals are, be open to the possibility that this may be something you should get involved with. Whether you’re struggling with ad-diction, in recovery, have a family member in recovery, or have never been exposed to this but are curious about it, check us out. Start a conversation and help break down barriers.”

By Sara E. Teller

THE PROMISE ZONE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM IS A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION founded in 2010, with scholarships first being awarded to the class of 2012. It is one of ten original “Promise Zones” created through legislation signed by Governor Granholm in 2009.

More than 60 percent of jobs in Michigan and throughout the country are projected to require a post-secondary credential by 2025, yet only 15 percent of Hazel Park adults currently hold a degree or certificate. “With this in mind, the Hazel Park Promise Zone Scholarship Program was created to eliminate finances as a barrier to higher education for Hazel Park students, to increase educational attainment in the community, and to incentivize families to move into or continue residing in the school district,” said Hazel Park’s Promise Zone Executive Director Kayla Roney Smith.

“The program guarantees a tuition-free path to an associate’s degree for students who reside in the school district, which is made up of the city of Hazel Park and a portion of the city of Ferndale, and who attend Hazel Park Schools from 5th grade through graduation.”

Students who complete the application process are eligible to get full tuition and fees paid for at Oakland Community College (OCC). The scholarship covers 62 credits within four years following high school. Students must reside in the school district at the time of graduation in order to qualify, and to receive the maximum scholarship they must have attended Hazel Park Schools from fifth grade (or earlier) through their graduation year.

Students who enter the District after fifth grade are also eligible for partial scholarships, and a student who chooses to attend a Michigan institution other than OCC may be able to utilize it there as well.

“​Students are encouraged to apply during their senior year of high school through a brief electronic application,” Roney Smith explains. “This application is released to students during ‘College Month,’ which is celebrated in October. In the spring, they are asked to sign a hard copy form acknowledging they understand the requirements and benefits of the program.” Students must also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and any additional financial aid application steps required by the colleges they plan to attend. “While there is not a strict application deadline, we ask that they complete these steps prior to their last day of school in order to ensure quick processing,” she said.

THE PROGRAM IS NON-COMPETITIVE, meaning as long as students meet the requirements and
complete an application, they are eligible. The only exception is if they receive a Pell Grant larger than the amount of the Promise Zone scholarship. If that’s the case, students are able to use their scholarships during the semesters they do not receive Pell Grant funding.

The scholarship may be used at any college, university, or approved vocational program located in the state of Michigan. If students receive a federal Pell Grant that does not exceed the Promise Zone amount, the amount of the grant received is subtracted from their total Promise Zone scholarship for that semester.

While the Promise Zone was created for the purpose of providing scholarships, it has evolved to provide other programming and services, as well,” said Roney Smith. “We provide a full-time college adviser at Hazel Park High School to pro-vide individualized and group assistance to students and families to assist them through the college preparation, exploration, application and financial aid processes. This adviser also assists students in accessing other, non-Promise Zone scholarships.”

Hazel Park administrators are also constantly working to create new partnerships and bring services and re-sources designed to assist students in preparing for the colleges. Roney Smith explained, “We worked with UAW Chrysler to create a two-year skilled trades training program, which operates each afternoon during the school year and recently graduated its first cohort of Hazel Park High School as well as Hazel Park Alternative High School students. We have also worked with the School District, the City, and business partners to offer paid summer internships and professional development training to high schoolers.”

By Ingrid Sjostrand

IT MIGHT BE HARD TO BELIEVE A CITY THE SIZE OF HAZEL PARK –ONLY 2.8 SQUARE MILES – HAS 12 PARKS WITHIN ITS LIMITS. Even more surprising is that among those parks are a BMX course, dog park, two community gardens, and an art park.

These 12 parks are maintained by a small recreation department led by Sareen Papakhian, Recreation Director and assistant planner. Papakhian describes their mission as “to enrich the lives of Hazel Park residents by providing quality park and recreation facilities, green spaces, programs, and services to the community.”

Their responsibilities expand far beyond just park maintenance, including everything from managing programming for seniors and children, coordinating many of the City’s annual events and renting community center space for activities and classes.

“We oversee senior programming, a congregate meal program for seniors, we provide senior event planning and a space for seniors to congregate in the evenings,” Papakhian says. “But, most importantly, we handle senior transportation and that’s in collaboration with SMART.”

“Beyond that, we also provide recreation and youth programming for residents and non-residents. That includes a summer camp program called Kids Camp and various sports leagues – our largest activity true to Hazel Park is baseball.”

The Recreation Department oversees eight annual events, and will be adding a ninth on August 4th with their Family Fun event in collaboration with Oakland County Parks. Other events include the Daddy Daughter Dance in February and Earth Day celebration and annual Spring Clean Up with the Department of Public Works in April.

“Our largest special event we held over Memorial Day weekend, the Hazel Park Memorial Festival,” Papakhian says. “Skerbeck Family Carnival from Escanaba comes down and helps us out with that. There’s also a refreshment tent taken care of by the Hazel Park Lions Club.”

Papakhian has been director of the Recreation department since 2014. She has her master’s degree in urban planning from Wayne State University, and also acts as assistant city planner aiding in economic development and coding enforcement.

IN HER FOUR YEARS WITH THE RECREATION DEPARTMENT, Papakhian has been working tirelessly to improve the quality of Hazel Park’s green areas through new initiatives like the tree planting program. “This was our first tree planting in over a decade, in partner-ship with ReLeaf Michigan. As a pilot program they gave us double the amount of trees, and we were able to plant 20; 16 in Scout Park and four in Karam Park, in and outside the dog park,” she says. “That was a big accomplishment for me because I love trees, and we are in dire need of increasing tree canopy within the parks and the city.”

In addition to the tree planting program, the Parks and Recreation Department has been replacing and re-purposing playground and park equipment.

“Our five-year plan would be to provide new park equipment for our parks in the city. Our parks are in dire need of new equipment, and what we’ve done for a few decades has been to maintain that equipment,” Papakhian says. “My number one goal as Director is to replace equipment as best we can through fundraising, reaching out to businesses in town which I’ve been able to do during my tenure.”

These fundraising efforts have resulted in $5,000 solicited for new baseball pitching machines, a playscape sourced for Scout Park at no cost to taxpayers, a partnership with the United States Tennis Association with a $25,000 grant for new tennis courts at Hazel Park High School and another playscape installed at Karam Park through the assistance of matching grants from playground company GameTime.

“Additionally, a family that provided many generations of civic betterment to Hazel Park donated a fitness park within Green Acres Park,” Papakhian adds. “From what I know that’s the first fitness park in a public park in the region. We also have a bike pump station there and planted a tree there in memoriam to that family.”

While the Recreation Department is doing great work with what they have, they still see the struggles of a small staff and an even smaller budget. Papakhian is the only full-time employee, working with the assistance of just a part-time office employee, sports and camp supervisors, three drivers and three building attendants. There is also a Recreation Advisory board of six members that meet bi-monthly to review and approve projects.

“We try to do what we can with what we have. The main struggle is the cost of everything – that’s our number one detriment.” Papakhian says.

“Personally, I think we’ve done a great job of being resourceful. My staff is the hardest-working part-time staff I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m proud of what we do here.”

PAPAKHIAN SEES THE WORK ETHIC OF HER STAFF reflected in the residents of Hazel Park every day, and that volunteers who help with park clean up and community gardens are just as important to the success of the Recreation Department.

“Hazel Park is a city of fighters. I don’t know any other city that has done what Hazel Park can do with what we have. I’m proud to work for a city of fighters and proud to work with the residents of Hazel Park,” She says. “Anytime a resident wants to clean a park we would support that endeavor in any way we possibly can.”

By Ingrid Sjotrand

BEAUTIFYING PUBLIC SPACES IS OFTEN THOUGHT OF as the responsibility of the government, but when citizens pitch in it can make all the difference. The Neighborhood Enrichment Committee is the perfect example of this in the things they do for the City of Hazel Park.

Founded in 2004 in collaboration with former Mayor Jan Parisi, the group takes on projects to enhance the appearance and livelihood of Hazel Park. This includes building community gardens throughout the city, hosting fundraising dinners and donating to local organizations.

“Neighborhood Enrichment is about inspiring our citizens to make their little corner of the city the best it can be. We are part of the community. We are your neighbors and friends, and all of us are doing what we can, with what we have, where we are,” their mission statement (listed on their Face-book page) says.

Probably the most well-known contribution of Neighborhood Enrichment are their many “greenification” efforts. One of their first and biggest projects was adopting Kennedy Park on Merrill St., where they updated playground equipment, in-stalled benches and built a community garden consisting of 17 plots available for residents to grow their own produce. Since 2005, the group has continued to maintain and improve the park.

They have since created a planting team, called the Flower Power Committee, which is responsible for gardening and landscaping public areas. One doesn’t have to look far in Hazel Park to see the impact they’ve made, from making over the corner of John R. and 9 Mile roads by building a display and adding flowers and trees in front of City Hall, to recently collaborating with residents of American House to fill planters outside the Hazel Park Recreation Center. One mission of the Flower Power committee is bringing the hazelnut bush – Hazel Park’s namesake – back to the city. They’ve plant-ed some in Kennedy Park and celebrate St. Filbert’s Day on August 20th. The filbert is a variation of the hazelnut, and the celebration is derived from the Roman Catholic holiday celebrated in France and England. Typically, the City puts on a memorial race on the holiday.

NEIGHBORHOOD ENRICHMENT ALSO WORKS for the betterment of residents and future leaders of Hazel Park. The group has been funding and installing the “little free libraries” seen around the city, and in June of 2017, they donated two benches with the Hoover PTA to Hoover Elementary for their “Buddy Benches” program. Buddy Benches are a safe space on the playground where more introverted students can sit if they need a friend or playmate. The project hopes to encourage empathy among students.

Neighborhood Enrichment also hosts occasional garden tours of Hazel Park neighborhoods, decorates City Hall for Halloween and Christmas and created the Curb Appeal Awards, recognizing the best-looking homes in the area. In July, they coordinated a city-wide garage sale.

All the work Neighborhood Enrichment does to better Hazel Park is supplemented by donations and fundraising. Their largest fundraising event is an annual dinner held in May with raffles and prizes. Typically a spaghetti dinner, the past two years the organization has taken advantage of May 5th falling on a weekend and held a Cinco de Mayo-themed event. The 2018 event was co-catered by Country Boy restaurant and featured a taco bar with sides and desserts.

The group is always accepting donations and looking for new members interested in beautifying and bettering Hazel Park. Meetings are scheduled to be held the first Thursday of each month at the Hazel Park Recreation Center and event details.

By Ingrid Sjostrand

IT’S NOT UNCOMMON FOR CITIES TO HAVE A FARMERS MARKET. EVEN SOME OF THE SMALLEST NEIGHBOR-HOODS MEET REGULARLY to exchange homegrown goods and handmade crafts. As of 2016, Hazel Park is no exception, thanks to Jennifer Jackson and a small team of Hazel Park residents.

The Hazel Park Growers & Makers Market began their third season on Sunday, July 8th and will run every Sunday through October 14th. Jackson started the market, along with a governing board, when they noticed a lack of affordable, healthy foods for residents.

“Myself and other volunteers started the market to bring a family-friendly weekly event to our community,” Jackson says. “We live here, and Hazel Park needs family-friendly places where we can gather and purchase locally-grown and made food.”

Jackson and Leigh McLaughlin (another member of the market board) attended training through the Michigan Farmers Markets Association – thanks to assistance from the City of Hazel Park – to learn more about proper practices and how to run a successful farmers market.

The Growers and Makers Market has anywhere from six to ten vendors on a given weekend, and it has grown to be about more than just food. These merchants vary from artistic endeavors to fresh produce.

“We have two farmers, Jentzen Farms and Mulberry Hill Farm and Garden. Detroit Kombucha Company serves fresh Kombucha by the cup or growler, and Sinfully Sweet offers cake pops and various confections. And Pink Robin Bake Shop has cookies and other baked goods,” Jackson says. “A variety of crafts, jewelry, signs, yard games, pottery, home decor, purses, and children’s clothing, have all been at the market throughout the season. We are looking to add coffee and personal care products as well.”

THERE ARE ALSO KID-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES at the Growers and Makers Market, thanks to the Hazel Park Arts Council. The organization hosts their Art in the Park program during the market to teach creative arts to kids.

“Art in the Park is a free event hosted during the Growers and Makers Market where kids can engage in arts and crafts,” Amy Aubry, Treasurer of the Arts Council, says. “We use items that are easy to find around the home or in nature to show just how easy and accessible art is for the family.”

Another important element of the Growers and Makers Market is that all residents are able to reap its benefits regardless of income, which is why they participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food assistance programs.

“Our market is a SNAP-approved market, and we are able to accept Bridge Cards at the market manager booth,” Jackson says. “We are also participants in the Double Up Food Bucks Program, where Bridge Card holders may double their produce purchasing power up to $20.”

ESSENTIALLY, THE GROWERS AND MAKERS MARKET is about bringing residents together and building up the City of Hazel Park and its residents.

“Hazel Park is our home. We are tightly-knit, and always jumping in to help one another,” Jackson says. “We want to see Hazel Park grow and be-come a destination for people to visit, and a farmers market is a small piece of joy that invites our families to gather, and surrounding communities to visit.”

By Mary Meldrum

IT IS ONE OF THE LARGEST REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN OAKLAND COUNTY,” said City Manager Ed Klobucher, referring to the Tri-County Commerce Center. “This is the largest building in Hazel Park, and overnight became the biggest taxpayer in the city.”

Ashley Capital partnered with the owners of the Hazel Park Raceway in 2015 to develop a 575,000 square foot building in the west parking lot of Hazel Park Raceway at 10 Mile and Dequindre. Ashley is one of the largest property holders that primarily markets to tier-one auto suppliers, and they planned and developed this property to be a light manufacturing center. The site is ideal for light industrial, manufacturing and distribution businesses.

The building is situated on the northwest corner of a 120-acre site located near the intersection of I-75 and I-696. The 36-acre site is surplus land for the thoroughbred horse race track that was in operation until April of 2018. This is a perfect location within the Detroit Metropolitan area, and is considered “ground zero” for any business needing to quickly access major expressways heading north, south, east, and west. The building was completed in the spring of 2017 and is roughly 80 percent leased.

The Tri-County Commerce Center currently houses three tenants: an Amazon distribution center, LG Electronics, and Bridgewater Interiors, which is a logistics company related to Adient, formerly Johnson Controls Automotive. There are two spaces left to lease out in the center; one is 55,000 square feet and the other space is 68,000 square feet.

THE CENTER SITS ON HAZEL PARK’S FORMER DISPOSAL SITE, which means the developer is cleaning the site to meet environmental standards and guaranteeing the $2.1 million loan through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The Tri-County Commerce Center will help to add between 200 and 300 jobs and $300,000 to the city’s tax revenue.

Ashley Capital has purchased the rest of the remain-ing raceway land, and will be breaking ground on their second building within the next year. The third development is undetermined at the time of this writ-ing. Both of these proposed sites are speculative as of right now and no tenants are in place. According to Kevin Hegg, VP of Acquisitions and Leasing for Ashley Capital, they are investigating and research-ing what types of commercial real estate is in demand for these sites.

The location is the primary factor that attracted Ashley to develop here. Hazel Park offers fantastic ac-cess to highways and all quadrants to Metro area markets.

“Hazel Park has been very supportive of our endeavors,” Hegg explains. “The city is progressive, pro business, and easy to work with. I want to commend them for their efforts and recommend other companies to take a hard look at Hazel Park. They have the right people in place right now in City Hall, a great location and a great story.”

Hegg emphasized that, “We are very confident in the location, and plan to continue to develop the area with a second 650,000 square foot building as well as additional building thereafter. We plan to be there for the next couple of years developing.”

When asked about working with the MDEQ, Hegg added, “Michigan has been at the forefront of brown-field redevelopment as far as protecting new buyers from past polluters. [The racetrack property] is a brownfield site and a great example of how to take blighted areas, improve them, provide economic impact to an area and provide a protected environment that helps to separate any toxins from the area. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

While the Tri-County Commerce Center is growing and supporting Hazel Park’s economic turnaround, the plans for further development on the site are steadily progressing, too. Evolution of the site from historical racetrack to economic catalyst for the city marks a very tangible and persuasive shift in Hazel Park’s renaissance.

Sara E. Teller

THE HAZEL PARK LIBRARY HAS BEEN IN BUSINESS FOR OVER 80 years, and has a rich history. It occupied two different locations before the City of Hazel Park constructed the current building on 9 Mile and
John R in 1970.

In May 1936, the Hazel Park Parent Teacher Association Council invited representatives from all religious, fraternal, business, social, and community groups to meet at the High School and discuss establishing a public library in Hazel Park. On November 4 of that year, a permanent library organization was established, a constitution adopted, and officers elected. The Library was formally opened on December 12, 1936, in a room loaned by the Board of Education in the basement of the Lacey School.

The Library operated in the basement until two lots were eventually purchased at the corner of Pearl and Rhodes in 1937, at a net cost of $368.89, for the purpose of providing a permanent site for the building. Current Hazel Park Library Director Corrine Stocker said, “As a true community project, more than 1,000 Hazel Park residents contributed either money or labor toward the building and equipment. Hazel Park pioneered in this field and proved that no community need be without a library.” The official opening of the new building was January 6, 1941, and that site is currently the home of the Hazel Park Historical Museum.

The Library’s present location was designed by Machida and Associates, who also designed the Hazel Park City Hall and Fire Station. The new building was constructed to replace the former Erickson Library, which was overcrowded.

“As the years passed, the Library took on a greater role, not only as a source for reading material but also as a center of the Hazel Park community,” said Stocker. “Services increased and changed with our increasingly technological times. Computers were installed in the 1980s, and WI-Fl access was installed in 2010, so patrons could bring their own computers and connected devices to the library to access the Internet as well. We now have 19 computers available for our patrons to use.”

The Hazel Park Library subscribes to Overdrive and RBDigital to offer its visitors access to thousands of books, audio books, and magazines. A whole host of programming is also offered, including regular book clubs, children’s story hours, Fun Fridays for Teens, movie nights, craft programs, Detroit Institute of Arts programs, and outreach services to senior citizens in the area.

“Every day, we generally offer one or more free programs to the public,” said Stocker. “For adults, regular monthly programs include stitch & Knit Night, a Make & Take Craft Club, and Book Club. For children, regular monthly programs include Family Fun Night with free pizza from Nick’s and Lego Club. We also offer weekly baby and preschool story times, weekly yoga, and computer tutoring. Once a month, we hold a Pop-Up Farmer’s Market with locally-sourced food.”

HAZEL PARK LIBRARY FRIENDS
THE HAZEL PARK LIBRARY FRIENDS (HPLF) is a charitable organization serving the Hazel Park District Library, and helping provide many programs and services. The HPLF organizes and runs fundraisers to benefit the Library, including selling snacks, candy, baked goods, plants, books and other items. Occasionally, the HPLF also raffles off gift baskets. Much of the money raised by the HPLF also gets donated back to the Library to pay for things that ii could not otherwise afford, such as perform­ers throughout the year, summer reading prizes, promotional banners, new folding tables, a scanner, and professional development conferences for Library staff.

“The organization donates thousands of service hours to the Library every year,” Stocker said. ‘Volunteer activities include cleaning and painting the windows, seasonal decorating, organizing the library’s storage areas, sorting donations, grooming the grounds, shelving materials, and assisting with programs. The Friends also promote Library programs and services via social media and represent the Library at community engagement events.”

The HPLF stocks the Library’s Little Free Libraries (LFL). LFL is an international program in which communities put out boxes, usually with the help of volunteers, and fill them with free books for residents to borrow and return. ‘We offer four,” Stocker said. “They’re located at Tuski Park, Scout Park (soon lo be moved near the fire department), the Rec Center, and the art park. These are full of donated books.”

“Thanks to the support of our tireless volunteers, our elected Library Board, as well as the help and assistance of the Hazel Park Library Friends, the Hazel Park District Library continues to grow and develop its resources to adapt to the needs of its patrons,” Stocker said.

CORRINE STOCKER, LIBRARY DIRECTOR
CORRINE STOCKER HAS BEEN EMPLOYED at the Hazel Park Library for 14 years. She assumed her current role after Hazel Park’s former Director, Jessica Keyser, left her position to take on the directorship role at the Ferndale Library.

Leading up to that point, Stocker explained, “I started as a half-time adult services librarian in March of 2004. Then they created a full-time position for me, and I worked in that capacity until I was promoted to Library Director in 2013.”

Stocker earned a four-year degree in English from Michigan State University and took a position at Gale Research following graduation, where she was employed for several years. The company paid for her to return to obtain a post­graduate degree in library sciences from Wayne State University. She eventually left Gale to be a corporate librarian for Arthur Anderson before heading to Hazel Park’s library.

She said to be successful in her position, “you have to like helping people.” She added, “I love being able to help people in a meaningful way.” She also enjoys the ability to be constantly learning. ”You learn something new every day. When someone comes to the reference desk to ask a question, you may not always have a ready answer, so you have to try a bunch of things and learn together.”

Stocker loves to read but doesn’t necessarily have a favorite book or author. “It’s constantly changing,” she explained. “It just depends on the day. I love to read, of course. I read every night and prefer this to watching television. I also love to garden, go hiking, and just be outdoors.”

The Hazel Park Library offers a unique opportunity for her to provide a variety of resources and activities to patrons while getting to know each and every one of them. “Our library has a reputation as the little library that does a lot,” said Stocker. “And, everyone knows everyone – it’s kind of like Cheers!’

NEIGHBORHOOD ENRICHMENT BRINGS LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES TO KIDS
LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES ARE A TREND, AND POP­PING UP IN YARDS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. And, thanks to Neighborhood Enrichment, Hazel Park has a few LFLs of our own to promote reading and access to books for kids.

Started in 2009 by Wisconsin resident Todd Bol, Little Free Libraries are small wooden containers mounted on a post in a public place and filled with books. Bobby McDermott, a member of Neighborhood Enrichment, spearheaded the Hazel Park initiative, and already they have helped create four Little Free Librar­ies around the city.

“The goal is to encourage kids to read. And adults too, with children, and to have conversations about books with kids. That conversation may be more important than the number of words a child knows entering school,” McDermott says. “Let kids experience the joy and adventure of reading, the book you ‘don’t want to put down’ with a flashlight under the blanket!”

The containers used for the project are recycled newspaper stands built by resi­dent artist Richard Gage, and books for the libraries have been donated by Neighborhood Enrichment President, Lois Reithel.

“Richard Gage built the structure designed to look like a library that sits on top. He donated his time, materials and creativity,” McDermott says. “Susan Fried­man, now a retired art teacher who taught here in Hazel Park, did the artwork to transform Richard’s wonderful construction into a library.”

Friedman describes how she dressed up the newsstands, using inspiration from a Beverly Cleary book for the one located in front of Hoover Elementary School.

“I used the images of her childhood experiences as inspiration for the four sides of the little library form. The roof is patterned with a quaint shingle design. Each side represents a season and three of the sides are painted with windows that reveal the activity inside the library,” she says. “There are shelves of books with children, a dog, a librarian helping a little girl, and a cat in an upper window. Hand imprints of kindergartners cover the old newspaper base.”

These libraries have added creativi­ty to the landscape of Hazel Park, and are seeing interest among chil­dren.

“I was pleased to be a part of something that supports reading and the experience of holding books rather than electronic devices,” Friedman says. “I thought it unlikely that they would get much use, but have since learned that they are visited fre­quently, and children love the idea.”

McDermott says the groups plan to add another Little Free Library to the city in the future, and that the benefits of the project are endless.

“They improve literacy, strengthen our neighborhoods and schools, bring families and kids together, build trust and community,” he says.

By Maggie Boleyn

IF YOU OR A MEDICARE-ELIGIBLE LOVED ONE would like to spend more time talking with your healthcare provider, or learn more about managing your health and attend fun classes, you might want to investigate the Hazel Park branch of Oak Street Health.

“We’re making an impact,” says Rafe Petty, Regional Vice President, Detroit Region, at Oak Street Health. “Oak Street Health offers Hazel Park residents more access to a higher quality of care that wasn’t previously available. We filled a gap by providing excellent primary care, close to home, for many of our patients.”

Oak Street Health aims to deliver value to patients, versus volume of services. Petty says, “Our care is personal. Our physicians spend more than twice as long with each patient than a typical doctor.” He adds that patients are assigned a health care team, consisting of a primary care physician or nurse practitioner, a medical assistant, a care manager, a registered nurse and a “clinical scribe” to document notes. Petty says all staff at the Hazel Park center live in the surrounding communities.

The focus is on prevention. “If a patient receives any other medical treatment, like hospitalizations, rehabilitation services or specialist visits, we are accountable and will pay that bill,” Petty says. He says this approach has decreased patient hospitalizations by 44 percent.

“AT OUR HAZEL PARK CENTER, we work with our local, community partners to provide five-week courses on diabetes management, healthy eating and fall-prevention for our patients,” Petty said. The center is located at 1142 Nine Mile Road, between John R and Dequindre.

There’s entertainment on the agenda, as well. “There is a full calendar of fun, social, educational, and health-promoting events in community spaces within our centers and
in the community itself,” Petty said. He added that the Hazel Park center hosted a Community Car Show Series every other Saturday, from the end of June to mid-August.

At the Hazel Park center, patient events include: computer classes, a monthly birthday celebration, classes including jewelry-making and clay sculpting. Patients that qualify also receive services like transportation to and from appointments. “We also host outdoor BBQ events and casino days as well as exercise such as chair yoga and tai chi. We really focus on the community aspect of health for our patients,” Petty said.

To make an appointment, schedule a tour, or learn more about Oak Street Health, call 1-844-808-8262, or send an email to info@oakstreethealth.com.