By Andrea Grieg

THIS TIME LAST YEAR, SCOUT PARK (in Central Hazel Park) was the site of a community tree-planting day. No one realized then that the trees were just the first of new things to grow out of the park.

Since then, Hazel Park has been selected for an incredibly generous grant from the Sutar-Sutaruk-Meyer Foundation, which donated $350,000 to the City of Hazel Park to help grow our Recreation Department. One of the ambitious projects planned is a brand-new, state-of-the-art playground. Scout Park was chosen to build the playground because of its central location, nestled within residential areas and adjacent to the junior high school.

The Director of the Parks & Recreation Department is Sareen Papakhain. She started working for the City as an unpaid intern while getting her master’s degree in urban planning at Wayne State University. Her senior thesis was planned around Hazel Park’s Recreation Department specifically, and her thesis is currently a key element in the City’s Master Plan.

“This is an incredible and exciting opportunity, and no one deserves it more than the residents of Hazel Park,” Papakhain says. “Hazel Park is growing, and the families of this city will reap the benefit of the community growth.” Before the grant from the Sutar-Sutaruk-Meyer Foundation, the Parks Department was almost dissolved due to lack of funding. Now Scout Park’s revamp is just the first of many long-term goals the City is starting to catch up on.

The Foundation picked Leather & Associates to help with the playground’s design. Leather & Associates is a custom playground design firm known for drawing from community input for their designs. On March 5 of this year, also known as Design Day, designer Jim Houghton visited with Hazel Park’s elementary school students and parents to ask what was included in their dream playground. The responses included a zipline, a maze, musical instruments, rock climbing, swings of all sizes, slides, and snake tubes. However, one of the most highly requested elements from the students was accessibility and making sure the playground had options for children of all capabilities to play on. Because of this, a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round was included in the design, along with swings and other ideas.

Houghton took all the ideas from that morning and spent five hours designing the perfect playground. His design sketches were revealed that evening at the Junior High. The design was very well-received and can be seen on the Parks & Recreation Department’s web site.

Now that the design has been revealed, the Parks & Recreation Department is rallying for volunteers to make the playground a reality. Papakhain strongly encourages all residents to get involved: from filling out the Master Plan’s surveys online to attending community meetings, to volunteering for the new Scout Park playground assembly. The building will take place the week of June 10 through the 15 (see ad on the next page). Residents are encouraged to sign up for a shift, help raise funds, or provide necessities and tools. Food sponsors and financial sponsorship in exchange for advertising are also welcomed. Contact the Department at (248) 547-5535 or

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By Sara E. Teller

IT’S FUN AND REWARDING to work on our home and garden projects. It’s also an opportunity to remember those who have no digs of their own, and are struggling just to find a safe place for their family to live. While working on DIGS 2019, we learned about a local organization, Bethany Christian Services, helping to resettle refugees from around the world.

Bethany Christian Services is a global nonprofit organization that brings families together and keeps families together. Programs include adoption, foster care and pregnancy counseling. Bethany also provides counseling to families, assists refugees and immigrants with resettling in the United States, and partners with several international countries to help keep families, near and far, together. Bethany is founded on Christian values and beliefs and they work to protect, empower, and strengthen families.

“Strengthening families for the well-being of children is our top priority,” said Starr Allen-Pettway, LMSW, Branch Director, adding, “The work we do equips families to be the answer for children in need. Every child deserves love and a loving place to call home.”

IN SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN, Bethany’s foster care program provides homes for the temporary placement of children. They also place those children who become available for adoption with their forever families through the state. There is also a domestic infant adoption program, which offers familybased support for birth mothers who make the decision to make an adoption plan for their children, and a teen outreach initiative in which Bethany partners with various local agencies to provide life skills training and education for youth in the Detroit Metropolitan area.

“Bethany makes every effort to ensure that families have the skills and training necessary to support the needs of children coming into foster care,” Allen-Pettway explained.

Bethany staff members come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Most have social service and counseling backgrounds and provide either direct or indirect support for the services offered by the organization. Other members have appropriate academic degrees for the positions they occupy.

“The specialties vary depending on department, but the one thing consistent throughout our organization is the love and compassion that all Bethany staff have for people,” Allen- Pettway said, adding, “Bethany leaders have a heart to serve and dig into the hard places. As leaders, the commitment is to ensure that we remember the overlooked, the forgotten, and serve them to the best of our ability.Leaders understand that many of the systems for which we do work are broken, and it is our responsibility to be the hope for those that find themselves in sometimes very hard places.”

Bethany Christian Services is always looking for the help of volunteers.

“We are always looking for volunteers – or, in our eyes, partners – who can support the various needs of the children and families that we serve. It is always our desire to do more, and that ability becomes greater when we have more hands at the table to support the needs.”

www. •

248-414-4080 •

By Jill Lorie Hurst


“Ch-Ch-ch-ch Changes. Turn and face the strange,” wrote David Bowie. When I heard Dino’s Lounge and M-Brew were up for sale, I grabbed this assignment so I could meet Dean Bach before he left Ferndale.

He agreed to meet up at Dino’s on a gray Monday afternoon in February, a week after the opening of Belle Iron Grille, his new place in Gaylord. Bach was emotional, pragmatic and wise as he looked around Dino’s and talked about childhood on the East side of Detroit. “I grew up in the 48205.” Life in the restaurant world, a ride that started as a 15-year-old dishwasher at Eastside Charley’s.

He took a risk on Ferndale when he bought the Rialto Cafe at the corner of 9 and Woodward, opening Dino’s Lounge in 2002. “We were ahead of the curve then.”

Some thought he wouldn’t make it. He talks about the cook who quit two weeks after opening, sure the place was destined for doom. Instead, Dino’s and later M-Brew (“my independent child, it runs without me, which is what I wanted”) became part of the fabric of fabulous Ferndale.

From the start he wanted Dino’s to be “a little bit of everything. Something for everyone. The corner bar for Ferndale.” Philosophical. “Today every place is a concept. Does the town need a neighborhood gathering place anymore?”

BOTTOM LINE, HE THINKS IT’S TIME FOR DINO’S TO CHANGE. He had ideas, of course. On this day they included selling or partnering. Stepping away. “I owe it to Ferndale and myself to do something that’s right for the community.”

He looked at me. “What do you think?” Me?! I hope they keep serving the chips. He smiles. “Everybody loves a good kettle chip.”

His idea? “I take a lot of ideas from my staff. Everyone has good ideas.” He’s listened and learned from his staff, his parents, local leaders and Ferndale residents. He listens to his wife, Denise, who encouraged him to throw himself into the restaurant business he loved, full-time, back in 2008. When he turned 50, the couple started looking forward, open to change.

A 4th of July visit to Lake Otsego clicked for Denise. “This is where I want to be.” Bach, emotional, remembers the moment. Laughs. “I couldn’t believe that (city girl) Zsa Zsa wanted to move to Green Acres.”

He loves the new place, Belle Iron Grille, and he is enjoying becoming part of a new community. “It’s making me grow as a person to learn about this different culture. Talk about different viewpoints, but people are the same everywhere.” He is enjoying this new experience.

OUR TALK RETURNED TO FERNDALE AGAIN AND AGAIN. Thoughts about Ferndale’s future? He is optimistic. “Ferndale will continue to grow, but Ferndale of the future will still be Ferndale.” I liked his faith.

A few days after we spoke, I learned that Dean Bach had taken Dino’s and M-Brew off the market. Bach reached out from the beach in Aruba! “We’re definitely happy about… reinventing Dino’s and making some adjustments to M-Brew. I just felt I wasn’t quite ready to simply sell and leave.”

Dino’s Lounge is located at 22740 Woodward in Ferndale. M-Brew is at 177 Vester Ave in Ferndale. Belle Iron Grille is located at 4029 Old US 27 in Gaylord.

By Richard Robbins

RECEIVING A TRANSPLANTED ORGAN IS SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE WILL NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT. But for an increasing number of people it is a reality they must confront. I became a lung transplant patient and recipient, and I’d like to share a bit of my story and some info on transplanted organs in general.

I was diagnosed as having pulmonary hypertension, emphysema, and another process that was never identified, in September 2017. I started the extensive testing process in January 2018, then listed for a double lung transplant. I was transplanted in August 2018. I was fortunate to get a transplant as fast as I did, because of the scarcity of lungs available for transplant in general.

The whole process involved a rigorous round of numerous tests to determine whether I was a good candidate. Fortunately, I took my team’s advice and participated in a Pulmonary Rehabilitation exercise program at the Providence Heart Institute in Southfield. They kept me strong by making it possible for me to walk and exercise, despite the 15 liters of oxygen I required to do so. Just sitting in a chair required 4 to 5 liters for me to maintain an oxygen level of barely 92 percent on a good day (a normal reading is usually 95 to 100 percent).

Checking my heart pressure required the pulmonary team to perform a heart catherization. That was performed by running a heart catheter through my right wrist and into my heart. The doctor performing the procedure was quite stunned as to the level of pressure in my heart, which increased my UNOS score for transplant. They checked the other arteries running into the heart and I was cleared, since there was minimal blocking of the arteries.

OTHER TESTS INVOLVED CHECKING THE FUNCTION of my stomach which involved drinking a barium solution and being turned upside down; also, eating and swallowing various things to check that functionality as well. Checking the distance one can walk in six minutes is also a must. Their baseline was a minimum of 400 feet in six minutes, but I managed to walk closer to 1400 feet on 15 liters of oxygen. Blood tests also confirmed the suitability for transplant, and they took 43 vials of blood at the initial draw. Among these tests were drug and alcohol tests and testing of other organ functions and diseases.

I was placed on the list for transplant in May 2018, and was registered with UNOS, the United Network for Organ Sharing. I was assigned a score that ranked me by need and was sent home to await a match for a double lung transplant. Blood type, antibodies, and lung size are just a few factors to consider in any lung transplant. UNOS handles other organ transplants as well, such as liver, heart, and kidneys. You can find out more about their function for transplant recipients, and statistics, at

Then I was sent home to wait for a match. Things sped up a bit once my oxygen levels decreased due to the diseases I had. I was driven to the ER for treatment and admission into the hospital. The transplant team did a fine job bringing me back from that emergency and I spent a week in the hospital. It seemed as if the transplant team wanted to keep me at the hospital until lungs were found, but instead I was sent home.

LESS THAN TWO WEEKS LATER I GOT THE CALL. Lungs were found! We drove to the transplant center and I was placed in a bed, waiting for 8:30 AM for the surgery. After they wheeled me down to the surgical suite, we waited a few hours while the surgical team checked the lungs received from the donor. The last thing I remember was the doctor coming in, saying “It’s a go,” and I was put out for the next 12 hours. This entailed placing me on a heart lung machine, cutting open my chest, splitting my sternum, moving my heart, and replacing both lungs.

Waking after the surgery was over, I only remember someone leaning over me, saying “You’ve got new lungs.” Looking over to the telemetry, I found the blood oxygen reading, and was relieved to see it running at around 98 percent.

The nursing staff would be critical to my recovery, as were the physical therapy people who made sure I could function once they released me. The biggest trick was getting up out of a chair or bed using no hands. It’s not easy even without a lung transplant. I was sent home after nine days. A visiting nurse and home rehab after surgery got me back to speed quickly.

My lung transplant was the first major surgery I have ever had, besides tonsil removal. It was far easier than I expected. I worried about the pain from splitting the sternum, but it was not that bad at all. Healing takes a while of course, but that varies from person to person. Maintaining the “status quo” now requires doctor visits and swallowing a lot of anti-rejection pills. Also, wearing the face mask that people always give me the fish-eye for. (It’s for my protection folks, don’t worry.)

Getting this transplant has enabled me to resume my life with a few restrictions. I am grateful for all the community support I have had through this process, as well as for my donor for taking the time to check off the box for organ donation when filling out their driver’s license form or agreeing to do so in the hospital. Also, I am volunteering with Gift of Life Michigan to promote organ donation and possibly speak to those potentially undergoing similar procedures. Please consider organ donation when you renew your license or go to to sign up.

By Sara Teller

JEREMY POSNER IS A MAN OF MANY IDEAS. As his graduation date neared at the University of Michigan where he was enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering program, the toy-and-game inventor quickly realized he would not be following a traditional path. While much of his graduating class was planning work at the Big Three, he was applying for internships at game makers.

“I didn’t care about cars. So, I thought, ‘What other industries could be fun?’ I’ve always liked toys and games – I mean, who doesn’t? So, I thought I’d give that a shot,” he said.

Posner put a few applications out there and, as fate would have it, he landed a gig at Mattel. “It was in a neighborhood outside of Los Angeles. I went down there and got to see how the sausage was made, so to speak. But I was given one project to focus on, and I just kept thinking I wanted things to move faster. I was on the manufacturing side of things and there were so many pieces that went into getting the product to market,” he explained.

So, Posner was left once again considering what path would be more aligned with his interests. Soon, he realized he needed to be on the inventor side. “I met a mentor there who invited me to brainstorming meetings and he said, ‘You probably want to be an inventor,’” Posner recalled. The rest is history.

AFTER COLLEGE, POSNER LANDED A GIG at Rehkemper Invention & Design, then Big Monster Toys. In 2016, he won the Game Innovator of the Year award at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, TAGIE Awards, for his work on Jenga Quake (Hasbro), Smackies (Goliath), Stratos Spheres (ThinkFun), Twangled (Mindware), Gravity’s Edge (Mindware), and Brynk (Winning Moves). “These [concepts] were all team efforts, but I was a key player,” he said. 

Posner met the love of his life, Allison, while in the Chicago area as well. It was a chance meeting. “We met at the Anti-Cruelty Society, an animal shelter. She was working there. I went in to play with the puppies and my friend really wanted to see the cats,” Posner reminisced. “I’m not a cat person, so I decided to talk to this cute girl for about two hours instead. I left my number with the receptionist and she called later that night.”

The couple was recently married, and they now live in the Detroit area near Jeremy’s family with the newest member of their family, a rescued mutt named Kiwi. Posner said he chose to start his company in Detroit because, “my family is here, and the rent is more affordable.” After being in the business for a little over six years for different firms in Chicago, he really wanted to see if he could make it on his own.

Having friends and family nearby certainly has its perks, according to the inventor, who said, “I have game nights. My older brother, Alan, helps me a ton with my company.” Often, he has family and friends over to play test prototypes, so he can get their feedback.

Currently, Posner has a number of projects in the pipeline awaiting licensing and expects to have his products out by next Spring. He is constantly coming up with new, innovative ideas. “My inspiration comes from everywhere,” he said. “My brain is on all the time.”

For more information on Shenanigans Toys and Games LLC, please visit the company’s web site,

By Kevin Alan Lamb

IF YOU BURIED A PIECE OF CHILDHOOD, what piece would it be? At some point or another, most people had the opportunity to bury a time capsule in school; a chance to send a message to the future from the past; to remind yourself of the joy you once held in your heart; to smile and laugh at the kid you were, and the man or woman you’ve grown to be.

But what if that piece of you was still buried? What if you never had the chance to summon what lies beneath and embrace the sweet relief of nostalgia that only a time capsule could provide? Twenty-six-yearold Warren resident David Proimos is one of a thousand students from William Howard Taft Elementary who may never uncover a piece of their childhood as the site was demolished to make way for a 72-unit housing development called Parkdale Townes.

“If I remember correctly the time capsules were made of PVC pipe and we were asked to put our most prized possessions in there. I believe it was five or ten items, and they were dated and signed by us then buried in a shallow grave. My memory isn’t the best so I couldn’t for the life of me remember where we buried the things!” Proimos recalls.

FF: Do you remember what you put in your time capsule?

My memory is hazy but I feel like a baseball card and a letter to myself confirming that I had become a professional baseball player would have been par for the course.

I really, really, wanted to see what I buried. Years and years went by, and again I forgot. When Taft was to be demolished it brought back all the memories and my curiosity, so I began asking old classmates and got with my cousin, Joseph Proimos. He believed that they were buried near the trees in the back of the park near the old oaks and I vaguely could confirm this. The plot thickened when I learned they were doing this in the early ’90s after posting in the Ferndale forum so the possibility of thousands being out there is great!

How far would you go to uncover a piece of your past? While some might dismiss the notion, I believe a time capsule symbolizes a simpler time, when your entire life was yet to unfold, and the only priority was to play. I think we could all use an intimate conversation with our younger selves. A reminder to take ourselves a little less seriously, be kind, and have fun. 

I’m very excited. If nothing else I’m going to buy a metal detector and kick it old school and try my luck, after getting permission to do so of course. Our plan is to excavate and return all the time capsules to their rightful owners.

FF: Have you made any progress with the Site Director regarding the location of the time capsules?

I have not. I was told by the City of Ferndale that I wouldn’t be able to dig until Spring, so that kind of put a halt on contacting him.

FF: How many time capsules would you guess are buried?

There very well could be thousands out there. I found that they were doing this as early as the early ‘90s.

Are you still a Ferndale resident?

Currently I am a Warren resident, but I spent my entire life in Ferndale up until I was 19- years-old.

Could you talk about some things you remember from growing up in Ferndale that are distinctly different now?

Things are very different now. I’ve noticed that downtown has transformed. Ferndale is a bustling city with so much life and business opportunities but also has stepped away from the family-like town in my opinion. I don’t see kids there like I used to. When I was a child we ran in very large groups back then.

What did you love as a seven-year-old? I ask that because I’m trying to imagine what I would have put in a time capsule at that age.

I distinctly remember two things off hand: I put Pokémon cards of high value in there and an omega yo-yo, those I know for sure. We also wrote letters to our future selves so that will be a very interesting read if found.

Outside of your own curiosity, what makes this meaningful for you?

This will be meaningful to me more than finding my own. To be able to surprise people with theirs, it brings a nostalgia that only the contents in the time capsule can produce. If I can help bridge that gap I will be paid in full!!

Since going down this rabbit hole, has your pursuit of this been contagious?

Yes, many other classmates and people in the FB Ferndale Forum have volunteered to help dig and lend a helping hand. The response was very positive and intriguing to everyone that saw it. It’s a compelling story.

By Sarah E. Teller

WHEN SUBURBAN FORD MOVED INTO FERNDALE, the company had some work to do in and around the existing facility. But this didn’t stop the family-owned business from putting down roots. Suburban Ford’s Platform President, Ron MacEachern, said, “Our company normally buys a store in a geographic area that we can develop into a larger footprint. If we have a large footprint, we can do more.”

Suburban began operations in Ferndale with the Buick GMC lot on Woodward in 2012 and acquired the Ford lot two years later. “When we got here, some major remodeling needed to be done,” explained MacEachern, including getting rid of a rodent infestation and remediating the water. “We sunk $5 million into a total campus remodel,” he disclosed. Part of that remodel included landscape improvements with greenery and brick pavers added to the front of the building. “The City asked us to do this,” MacEachern said. “We lost parking because of it, but we were happy to cooperate. We added to the beautification of Woodward Avenue.”

According to MacEachern and General Manager Jeff Huvaere, the company started with one parking lot and also a house kiddy-corner from the area. They also bought out a few other homes over time, making offers over list price. MacEachern explained, “The people who lived in these homes knocked on our door and told us they were interested in selling.” The renovations paid off, and Suburban Ford quickly expanded. Staff increased substantially to 75 employees. However, the rapid expansion came at a price and parking and other issues soon arose.

In November 2018, Suburban issued a mailer to local residents that read: “While the dealership has been through a lot of physical changes and growth…we understand that you as our neighbors have been impacted by those changes as well, with increased customer traffic, construction traffic and noise and increased street parking activity on Silman and Jewell Street.”

SUBURBAN SCHEDULED A PUBLIC MEETING For December 10, 2018 regarding “the dealership’s operations and future proposed plans,” as specified in a letter distributed by the City of Ferndale. “I don’t think they expected a standing-room-only crowd to voice their concerns,” resident Roberta Kuhn said of the meeting. “But those who have been impacted the most were there. They’re concerned about their property values, safety, and the impact on the neighborhood of tearing down old homes zoned residential to make parking lots.’”

“Progress is uncomfortable for some people,” MacEachern said of the meeting’s outcome. “But for every complaint we’ve gotten, we’ve received at least that many compliments.” Of the parking situation, he said assuredly, “We don’t park [cars] there illegally, and they’re not there overnight.” Huvaere added, “We haven’t gotten one parking ticket I can think of since we’ve been here.”

Some residents believe ‘no parking’ signs have been pulled from certain areas so the dealership isn’t issued tickets. And they’ve noticed other problems, such as an incident of antifreeze leaking onto surrounding streets.

Kuhn said, “There was a car parked across the street from my house where it is legal to park. However, it was leaking antifreeze. I went to the City and showed a picture of it to Code Enforcement, so he drove over and talked to the service managers and they had it towed. Everyone around here has cats and dogs. I’m worried about our animals and the environment.” She added, “There was also a mechanic working on a car right in front of my house. There is no parking on the north side of Silman. Another big issue has been mechanics test-driving cars, fast-braking, etc. up and down the street.”

“ANOTHER BIG CONCERN WAS THE PLAN to tear down five homes at the same time; four on Silman and one on Jewell. Some of these homes are close to 100 years old. Neighbors are concerned about lead paint, asbestos and other toxic materials that would be released in the environment and the adjacent homes.”

“Other issues discussed included home values, conserving greenspace, snow removal, limited street corner visibility due to parked cars along Woodward, and scattered trash and debris. In fairness, some of these issues have been addressed since the meeting. However, rezoning residential for parking is the pending concern.”

MacEachern responded, “We have never been cited for any environmental thing. We have never had a parking violation. Yes, we have vehicles parked on the side streets, but we have a strict rule about where employees are supposed to perform test drives. We also have rules for where customers can test drive vehicles.”

“I can tell you this,” MacEachern said. “As far as any antifreeze, we are diligent about following OSHA and safety guidelines.” “Otherwise, we’d lose our license,” Huvaere said. “The bottom line is there are a few unhappy neighbors and parking is a legitimate concern we’re working with the City on. There’s a designated test drive route,” Huvaere added. MacEachern said, “We’re hitting max capacity, and we need a couple hundred parking spots.”

BOTH HUVAERE AND MACEACHERN SAID addressing residents’ concerns is their top priority. “I know I plan to stay here. I love Ferndale,” Huvaere said. “I was working in Sterling Heights for seven years before I came here, and there’s a community feel to Ferndale that there wasn’t there. We get the sense that residents just want to be in the know, and we would too. We’re here to stay.”

Justin Lyons, Planning Manager at the City of Ferndale, said there are no future meetings in the books with the City to discuss parking, explaining, “Suburban’s team was going to review the feedback given at the December community meeting and decide their next steps. The request to expand parking would be driven by Suburban and is not a City-led project. The City would review the request once received and would notify residents in the immediate area via the email list started at the community meeting and mail. The most recent proposal by Suburban would likely require rezoning, which requires public hearings and public notice via mail and newspaper at least 15 days prior to a meeting.” He suggested, “Residents should use SeeClickFix for issues related to parking and contact the police non-emergency line, 248-541-3650, for speeding or other safety issues. Suburban Ford’s management team has also encouraged residents to reach out directly to them.”

By Sarah E. Teller

VERY RECENTLY, THERE WERE FOUR NEARLY LIFE-SIZED STATUES OF GIRAFFES standing in the last of Ferndale’s large green spaces adjacent to the controversial Pinecrest Holdings mixed housing development that’s been underway for quite some time.

Nearby, a sign read: “Giraffes are the first to flee danger. A developer wants to clearcut the woods, dig up the soil/contamination will spread over our homes and FHS students. Save our last green space!” Not long after being placed, however, the statues and the sign were removed by local law enforcement.

According to the artist and sculptor responsible for the message (who wishes to remain anonymous), “Giraffes are the first critters to flee an area when there’s severe strife. It goes back to a native, mythological belief that because of their long necks, giraffes can see trouble before it happens. They can see into the future and know when something’s coming.”

He said he wanted to make a statement about eliminating the city’s last green space, especially because he considers himself a “friend to the environment” and uses only natural materials in his art.

“There were four giraffes altogether – a mom, dad, and two kids. Police cut down the sign. The little ones are gone. The mom and dad have been knocked down. All in all, I have about four months of work in it and $350, including 37 yards of fabric, some jute cord, 200 feet of chicken wire, and spray paint. As a nature lover, this green space is important to me. There are old trees there that will be cut down. The developer said they’re going to save as many trees a possible, but what does that mean? Before you know it, they’ll just say they couldn’t save anything.”

URBAN PLANNING MASTER’S DEGREE CANDIDATE, Leah Deasy, provided some additional insight into the status of the development project. “Process-wise, I believe the City has received application materials from the developer, Pinecrest Holdings LLC, seeking site plan approval for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) on the two parcels south of the high school on Pinecrest. The last word from City staff was that these materials are in the process of being reviewed. They have not yet been made public.” She added, “Pending completion of the application and staff review, the PUD formal application could come before the Planning Commission for a vote on December 5 or 19. Before a vote, the Planning Commission will take public comment on the project. If approved by the Planning Commission, the PUD moves on to City Council for approval.”

Jordan Twardy, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Ferndale, confirmed, “The project team is currently responding to feedback from their last appearance at the Planning Commission in July 2018 as well as the recent community meeting in October 2018. Critical next steps include a more detailed site plan and a development agreement. If those pieces are completed by the developers and submitted to the City, they could appear before the Planning Commission.”

NOT ALL RESIDENTS ARE PLEASED, HOWEVER. “I would say that there has been a lot of concern from residents on the environmental conditions of the site,” said Deasy. “Residents are very concerned, thoughtful and deliberate. We want to know exactly what risks we are facing from contaminants at the site currently and what risks we could be exposed to by disrupting it. What I’ve observed so far is that residents still have so many unanswered questions that they don’t feel anyone has enough information yet to responsibly make a decision of this magnitude.”

She continued, “The community also feels hurt by the misdeeds of past landowners at this site – Ethyl Corporation using the forest as a dumping ground for trash and chemicals and the needless destruction of Ferndale’s only Albert Kahn-designed house, circa 2012. It is a hard pill to swallow to think that no one can be held responsible for past actions at this site and that we have little choice but to consent to more destruction for its future.”

The local artist added, “The developer is not being specific about the plans. This is another big problem I have with this. They’re not being honest with us or the City, and the City says it’s private property so they can do anything they want.”

A group of concerned individuals, who’ve coined themselves the Southwest Neighborhood Association, has formed in order to discuss the issues at hand. “There was a meeting with the City. The City is not interested in a parcel of land, and Pinecrest Holdings LLC doesn’t own the land, they only have an option to buy. Just come out and be honest with us – no ifs, ands or buts.”

Deasy explained, “There is clear consensus from residents, however, that any development should be concentrated on the south portion of the site and that the forest area towards the mid-north end of the site should be preserved for the benefit of the community. We desire to see dense, walkable, mixed-use development on the 8 Mile frontage of the property, at the corner of 8 Mile and Pinecrest, and for the 15 acres of forest to remain intact. We’d like the nature that has made this site its home to stay and want the process of bio-remediation that has already started onsite to continue. We think if the developer would think more ‘innovatively’ about the relationship between current and future land use onsite and the value of the ecosystem services already in existence there, we could have something really special.”

Twardy addressed this concern. “The project, if approved as a PUD, will require the preservation of a significant number of old growth trees as well as the provision of north-south and east-west pathways for public use throughout the site,” he said. “In response to public feedback, the developers will also be looking at ways to increase the size and accessibility of open green space and wooded areas. Additionally, space is being set aside –currently proposed for the eastern portion of the site – for a defined public space, which, if the project is approved, would be designed with public input.”

THE ANONYMOUS ARTIST SAID, “There’s a large herd of deer there, coyotes, and it’s home to owls and a couple of species of bats that are endangered. It’s a beautiful place. It really is. It’s been astounding, and it will be heart-wrenching to have it all paved. The City is trying to get revenue generation and tax money, I get it. But it will also cost us money, in additional police and fire resources. And, imagine if you clear-cut everything. Then, it’s August and hasn’t rained in a month to a month and a half. The contamination will scatter, and we’ll all be breathing it and brushing it off our furniture. The students will all breathe it in.”

Addressing clean-up concerns, Twardy said, “The project will be required to, prior to any construction, clean up all contamination in accordance with applicable state and federal environmental standards. The entire site will be required to be cleaned up prior to any development activity. The applicable standards for cleanup also have provisions for ensuring the continued safety of all adjacent and nearby properties. The result would be a situation that is safer and cleaner for the property and surrounding neighborhoods than currently exists today.”

He added, “Additionally, separate from the developer’s efforts, the City has approved funding of up to $20,000 to perform an environmental concerns inventory for the site. We are in the process of also seeing if grant funds can be used to pay for the study. Our goal is to have the study completed in time for the project’s return to the Planning Commission or, at the latest, by the time the project goes forward to City Council for final approval, which would only occur if the Planning Commission were to approve it.”

As far as her personal thoughts regarding the development, Deasy, too, is concerned about the wildlife. “Myself, I often think about the deer. I’m partial to deer and having them intermingled within our city suburbs thrills me. I think that’s something really special to Michigan and Metro Detroit – that we have so many deer and that they are welcome and enjoyed alongside our neighborhoods in places like Troy, Rochester Hills and Farmington Hills,” she said. “A lot of the people focus on the trees on this site – and they are huge and amazing, but they also provide a habitat for deer and this is the only place I know of in Ferndale where deer live. When we remove the last deer habitat in the city, we are unequivocally stating that wildlife is not welcome in Ferndale. I also think the destruction of this forest will have a negative impact on our air quality, heat index and storm water retention that we do not fully understand.”

She added that the communal power of local residents shouldn’t be discounted or ignored. “Regardless of the outcome of this specific site development, neighbors have bonded together to build community. We’ve met and become familiar with people on our blocks and across our corner of the city and Royal Oak Township. We’ve organized a neighborhood association that we intend to formalize by seeking guidance from more established organizations and to continue working to make our awesome community even better. We are working together to harness our communal power and we have lots of ideas.”

Story By Rebecca Hammond  Photo By Dwight Cendrowski

ONE DOESN’T USUALLY EXPECT A FEELING of mild intimidation associated with the task of interviewing two renowned peaceniks.

Sometimes, however, you can find yourself anticipating a conversation with a real sense of awe.

THAT’S HOW I FELT LAST WEEK, walking over to visit local Peace Action members, Helen Weber and Frank O’Donnell. An article on Helen and Frank’s work could have been done at any time, given their dedication. But they happen to have just won a Lifetime Achievement Award, as “Peacebuilders,” presented by Peace Action of Michigan.

Helen currently runs Peace Action’s board and Frank is treasurer, but each has spent time in various roles. Michigan’s office, in the Pioneer Building on West 9 Mile in downtown Ferndale, is an affiliate of the national organization, which Helen also once co-chaired. She visited Washington several times a year and weighed in on issues in conference calls. Frank told me that the national organization “started in 64. Right after the first Nevada (atomic) test, Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein realized that something extraordinary had happened, and they formed the group.

“In the ‘80s, here in Michigan, there was a group called the Nuclear Freeze. Nuclear Freeze and Peace Action combined and then became Peace Action.”

Helen and Frank have been involved for so many decades, they were unsure of the exact year they got started. Frank thought it was “probably in the mid-to-late 1980s. We have a good friend, Deborah Williamson. She was very active with Nuclear Freeze and she saw that the merger [with Peace Action] wasn’t really going that well, so she invited us to a two-day workshop at Schoolcraft Community College and that’s where we met the whole group. Debbie was also on the school board with me.”

Helen added that this was when they got to know Doug and Pat Lent, the namesakes of the Peacebuilder Celebration where the lifetime achievement award was presented. Like many of us who join a group, Helen and Frank were just members at first, leaders later. Helen said, “I guess we were just interested in peace.”

One commitment led to another.

Frank: “We got involved with a group in Detroit that was part of the national opposition to the Vietnam war. We just had some friends who introduced us to all of that.

We met the great Morris Gleicher (a former president of the Michigan ACLU); his daughter Elizabeth was just reelected to the Michigan Appeals Court. It was just the person-to-person contacts over the years.”

HELEN TOLD ME THAT A GOAL OF PEACE ACTION is to “always try to involve more of our members and reach out to more people around the state who can be involved. If it turned out there was a good nucleus in some other part of the state, they could be an affiliate. To the extent that someone was interested, we could work with them to set up their own chapter.” Frank added, “There are three centers outside of Detroit where we have a lot of members: Kalamazoo, East Lansing, and Traverse City.”

Peace Action is now attempting to engage more of the younger generation. Here’s one way. “At this dinner they announced a new scholarship, The Frank O’Donnell and Helen Weber Young Adults for Nuclear Abolition Scholarship, for either a student or a teacher with the goal of assisting this communication, how to work together with the younger generation.” Helen added, “We need to help that happen. The fund has been established and donations have been made, and that’s going to enable us to do more with a new group.” A committee is forming to work out the details of the application and award process. A Detroit tradition called The Buck Dinner, started decades ago by a group of civil rights attorneys, will provide some of the funding.

Helen and Frank are fond of several of Peace Action’s ongoing projects, including the Monday-afternoon gatherings at Woodward and 9 Mile (15 years and counting) and the 2,000+ plus members of their statewide-and-beyond mailing list, who receive the quarterly newsletter. But there are some disappointments, a major one being the Iraq war. Peace Action of Michigan sent buses to large protests in New York and Washington, but “it was sad that we weren’t able to be more effective in slowing it down or stopping it,” Frank said.

Helen said she was always interested in peace, and Frank remembers being taken at age seven by his dad to picket with the UAW at the Dodge plant in Hamtramck. He mused that now at age 87 he and Helen are still involved with issues in Hamtramck, one being a mural for the Bangladeshi community there, who Frank called “marvelous, lovely, and dedicated.” These are words that could not apply more to Frank and Helen themselves.

Were they surprised to receive this year’s award? Helen said, “Yes. I think this was the sixteenth year our mission group has done this and sometimes there might be three or four people. It was kind of unusual that it was just two people, but we’re a package.”

They are indeed, one that greatly benefits our community. Well done, Helen and Frank.

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Story By Maggie Boyle

THE MOVIE THEATRE SHOOTING IN AURORA, THE SHOOTING AT THE ORLANDO NIGHT CLUB, and other high-profile school shootings like Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have all increased public awareness of dangerous situations in public places.

Programs to educate the public about violent intruders are becoming more common. Ferndale Police Department (FPD) has begun active intruder training for the public and for Ferndale businesses. In late September, Sergeants Dan Kuzdal and Janessa Danielson gave a presentation for the general public, held at the Ferndale Public Library.

“We want to inform businesses and organizations to prepare,” said Sgt. Kuzdal, an 11-year veteran with FPD and a member of the SWAT team. “We rely on the public to be prepared as much as possible.”

Recently, the Credit Union One Staff in Ferndale was scheduled for active intruder training, according to Sgt. Baron Brown, FPD Community Engagement and Public Information Officer.

Dangerous situations do not always involve shootings. In September 2018, a teen was stabbed to death at Warren Fitzgerald High School. Sgt. Danielson, who uses the term “Active Intruder Training” rather than “Active Shooter Training,” points out, “It’s not just a gun all the time.” Sgt. Danielson has been with FPD for 14 years, and serves as the school resource officer. She has conducted mock drills on active shooter and other dangerous situations. Sgt. Danielson noted, “Homicide is a leading cause of workplace death for women.”

Although most research has focused on school violence events, the lessons learned from school violence translates to surviving violence in other workplaces. Law enforcement response in these situations has evolved over the years. For example, the trend is moving away from assembling SWAT teams in favor of solo entry by a police officer.

Another evolving area includes changes to the traditional “lockdown” response to a violent intruder. Traditionally, people were instructed to hide under desks or chairs. There are problems with that approach. “When you are lying under a chair or desk, you are an easy target,” Sgt. Danielson said.

Three problems have been identified with the passive approach in a traditional “lockdown”, Sgt. Danielson said. “What if you can’t get to the locked location? What if the intruder has keys? What if the intruder is already inside with you?”

Modified approaches to the traditional lockdown include options like jumping out windows, if possible, and barricading doors to slow down an intruder. If the intruder does gain entry to your immediate area, throwing things and running away from the intruder is also possible. Sgt. Danielson advises not to run in a straight line away from an intruder. Rather, use a zig-zag path to confuse the intruder. Also, know where your best exit is at all times. Sgt. Danielson points out, “Remember, like on an airplane, the closest exit may be behind you.”

Ferndale Public Schools (FPS) has taken steps to reduce the possibility of school violence. Currently, there are 102 surveillance cameras located in Ferndale High School alone. Sgt. Kuzdal adds that every (FPS) classroom is equipped with a “Jacob Kit.” These trauma kits are available for use, should severe casualties occur. The kits are named for Jacob Hall, a six-year-old who died after massive blood loss during a school shooting.

To learn more about additional active intruder training sessions for Ferndale businesses, call the Ferndale Police Department at (248) 541-3650, press 5, and ask to speak to the Community Engagement Officer.

“We love to hear from the community,” Sgt. Brown said. “We’re an open book.

Run, if a safe path is available.
Try to escape or evacuate even if others insist on staying.
Encourage others to leave with you, but do not let the indecision of others slow down your effort to escape.
Once you are out of the line of fire, try to prevent others from walking into the danger zone and call 9-1-1.
If you cannot get out safely, find a place to hide.
When hiding, turn out lights, remember to lock doors, and silence your ringer and vibration mode on your cell phone.
As a last resort, working together or alone, act with aggression, use improvised weapons, and fight.

Source: Michigan State Police Department