Special

SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 1840, THE BERKLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT HAS ENJOYED REMARKABLE SUPPORT from the community, including businesses and families outside of the District.

“The incredible success Berkley students experience is possible in part because of the overwhelming community support provided at every level to ensure they are provided with a state-of-the-art educational experience,” explains Director of Communications, Jessica Stilger.

SUPERINTENDENT DENNIS MCDAVID BEAMS ABOUT HIS STAFF. “WE ARE NOW WELL UNDERWAY into our 2020-21 school year. The year has started out with remote learning, and I am incredibly proud of all our students for their perseverance. I am also deeply proud of our educators for their willingness to try new things and be nimble during this online learning time. They have stretched themselves to make sure they can deliver content with fidelity and form meaningful relationships with their students. I have never been more proud of our team for putting students first and thinking of all the ways we can support our learners while learning remotely.

“While this school year does look and feel differently, some things are still the same. Over the Summer of 2020, we had quite a lot of Sinking Fund work completed. Roof work was completed at Rogers, BHS, Anderson, Building Blocks and Burton. Parking lots were re-paved and repaired at Norup and BHS. Media Center carpet was replaced at Angell, Burton, Rogers, Anderson and Norup. We have many more projects in the works for this coming year. We are grateful for the community’s ongoing support and investment in our schools.

“We prepare our students to be creative, curious, confident, and critical thinkers. This year, we will reinforce these principals with the notion of being flexible and adaptable to ever changing situations. We know our students are up to the challenge because they are always impressing us with their knowledge, growth mindset and their ability to adapt to ever changing situations.

“Our students enjoy the multitude of experiences and successes because of the overwhelming community support, the fantastic work of their great teachers and administrators and the rich and vibrant environments that parents create. We believe we are all in this together for the benefit of all our children.”

THERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS ONE CAN BECOME A PART of the Berkley School District. Residents who live within the District’s boundaries are welcome to register directly with the enrollment office. If a family is uncertain whether their residence is within the boundaries, there is a map available online or at the enrollment office.

Each year, the Board of Education also has the opportunity to approve School of Choice slots for a limited number of students in grades TK-5, and there are a set number of openings in 9th grade for the Berkley High School (BHS) Scholars program. Although the Board has approved the School of Choice slots the last several years, availability is reassessed on an annual basis and the continuation of this program is not guaranteed. Additionally, if the number of applications for School of Choice received after the program is approved exceed the number of openings, a lottery is held to place students. If a student’s name is drawn, they will be allowed into the District.

According to the District, Berkley students “are prepared to be creative, curious, confident, and well-rounded critical thinkers who are kind and caring and have a global perspective while understanding their communities.” The District has been named one of the state’s recipients of the Best Community for Music Education award nine years in a row.

BHS was named a Best High School by the U.S. News & World Report in 2020, among the top eight percent of high schools in the nation. In 2018, it was one of 175 schools in Michigan to be honored with the GreatShools.org College Success award, demonstrating the District’s commitment to preparing its students for continued success after graduation. BHS was also named to the Washington Post’s 2017 Most Challenging High Schools list, ranking 21st in Michigan and 1,575 in the nation.

“Berkley School District is known for being dedicated to creating pathways for students to achieve their individual best, whatever that looks like for each student,” says Stilger. And Superintendent McDavid is leading the charge, ensuring students are supported not only while achieving their educational goals, but also while reaching their career goals after they move forward in their journey.

BHS CURRENTLY OFFERS 26 ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES and students are able to attend courses at the Oakland Schools Technical Centers. Outside-of-the-box courses include zoology, forensics, Encore! show choir, creative writing, film studies, history of the Holocaust, marketing, computer programming and many more. Students can also participate in the school’s newspaper, or learn robotics, foreign languages or video production while still in middle school. Many middle school students complete high school credits while attending Anderson or Norup.

Berkley’s elementary schools offer opportunities for children to excel at their own level and pace by utilizing the Cultures of Thinking & Writing Workshop models. This allows administrators to gage each student’s individual needs for furthering their academic growth.

Berkley offers a wealth of opportunities for middle school and high school students to join clubs and sports. Middle school sports include softball, base-ball, football, basketball, track and field, cross country, wrestling, swimming, volleyball, golf, tennis, and clubs include yearbook, robotics, and art and drama. BHS offers football, basketball, swimming, soccer, wrestling, and cheerleading, among others, as well as club sports including hockey, figure skating, the dance team, and rugby. At BHS, students can join over 60 clubs, including unique offerings such as the vine-and-cheese club, drama, and the future teachers club.

Berkley’s students have been named All-State and Academic All-State honorary recipients for activities such as swimming, track and field, baseball, golf, hockey, and soccer. Twelve student athletes signed with colleges and universities during the 2018-19 school year. The BHS Orchestra was also one of three high school orchestras nationwide invited to play at Carnegie Hall in 2019 for the World Stride Music Festival and Berkley High School was the first school in the state to adopt Sources of Strength, a peer-led wellness program that benefits all students.

By Brandon Jiles

THE OAK PARK SCHOOL DISTRICT BOASTS AN ABUNDANCE OF EDUCATIONAL and co/extra-curricular programs to meet the needs of a vast array of learners from Pre-K through twelfth grade. We encourage students to challenge themselves academically, explore comprehensive course offerings and take risks to discover their individual gifts.

We are dedicated to providing an intellectually challenging educational experience in safe, nurturing school environments that thrive on cultivating and empowering students to be their authentic selves. In addition, our academic and co/extra-curricular opportunities provide agency and shape self-identity, which are critical components to the adolescent development process.

Oak Park School District’s nearly 4,500 students are served at Einstein, Key, and Pepper elementary schools (grades PreK-5), the Oak Park Preparatory Academy (grades 6-8), Oak Park High School (grades 9-12), NOVA (grades 3-12) the Oak Park Alternative Education Center (ages 16-19 years old) and My Virtual Academy of Oak Park (grades 5-12), in Oak Park, a suburban community with approximately 30,000 residents. Our District consists of over 450 staff members, including 250 teachers and 11 building administrators.

The Oak Park advantage is a holistic approach to education that not only prepares students academically but also fosters a sense of belonging and creates long-lasting connections to the Oak Park community. While attending Oak Park Schools, students develop a confidence that is woven throughout their post-secondary, professional, and social emotional well-being years after they graduate.

“We take pride in our commitment to fostering a diverse teaching staff that is inclusive of everyone. It’s integral to our culture as we aim to empower our students to bring their best self, unique perspectives, and talents to the classroom every day,” said Brandon Jiles, Communications Coordinator.

Commitment to student growth and emphasis on athletics and the arts are just a handful of the many Oak Park advantages. The Wade McCree Incentive Scholarship Program offers four-year scholarships to attend Oakland University for Oak Park High School students who graduate with a 3.0 GPA and score at least 1060 on the SAT. Our comprehensive educational and enrichment programs allow us to distinctively meet the needs of all learners in Oak Park.

IN ADDITION TO THE MAJOR ACADEMIC AREAS, COURSES ARE OFFERED in art, music, physical education, computer science, foreign language, bilingual education, alternative education, advanced placement, co-op, work-study, special education and college prep, advanced placement courses at the Center for Advanced Studies and Arts (CASA). Special facilities include the state-of-the-art Hoffman planetarium, a TV studio, multi-lingual studies, and computer labs.

Despite the COVID 19 pandemic, Oak Park Schools had an award-winning 2020. Oak Park High School teacher Owen Bondono was named the 2020-2021 Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY). Bondono will be entering his sixth year of teaching English language arts in the fall. Prior to teaching, he worked as a para-professional in the classroom for four years. Bondono’s selection as the 2020-21 MTOY began with the nomination of more than 400 teachers last fall.

“Ultimately, teaching is an expression of my love for humanity. My way of making my mark on the world is making the next generation better. I know that growing the next generation of humanity is a community effort, so I will create that community wherever I find it,” Bondono said.

In addition to our educational programs, a wide variety of extra-curricular activities keeps students involved after school as well. We have robotics teams, a national honor society, and an outstanding athletic department, including a championship football program led by Hall of Fame Coach Greg Carter, and MHSAA Division 1 State Champions the last five out of six years in girls track and field. And we are home of 2020 Gatorade Michigan girls track and field athlete of the year, Aasia Laurencin, and an award-winning marching band known all over the country.

By Jocelyn A. Davis, Communications & Public Information Director, City of Oak Park

THE CHALLENGING EVENTS OF 2020 WILL UNDOUBTEDLY STAY WITH US FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES. A relentless, global pandemic brought many of us closer to our loved ones, as we embraced “togetherness” while sheltering in place. At the same time it unjustly robbed too many of us of our family and friends.

We collectively experienced the tragedy of losing several national role models for our youth, such as Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And we empathized with people around the world who marched for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a corrupt Minneapolis police officer.

We felt all these events right here in our own tight-knit, Oak Park community.

Oak Park Public Safety Director Steve Cooper, a 30-year veteran of the Department, believes that in times like these, community engagement is critical. I recently sat down with him to discuss his views on the role and responsibilities of Public Safety in times of crisis and his vision for the relationship between the community and law enforcement.

Director Cooper, what is community policing?

Director Cooper: Community policing is relationship-building. It’s ensuring that officers are active and integral members of the community – not just when crimes are committed, but also when there are opportunities to engage with residents and create positive experiences. We’re committed to making and maintaining connections with our residents, which was the impetus for appointing two Community Resource Officers whose roles are to attend community events, establish presence in our schools, and bond authentically with residents.

 

Governor Whitmer issued a shelter-in-place order this Spring in an effort to save Michigan lives. How did Public Safety respond to the pandemic relative to maintaining the health and safety of residents and Public Safety Officers?

Of course, the Oak Park Public Safety Department was never shut down during the shelter-in-place order because we’re essential workers. Oak Park is unique in that each officer is highly trained in policing, firefighting, and emergency medical services. In fact, Oak Park was the first community in the State of Michigan to combine all three services into one department in the early 1950s.

Our first priority, before, during and after this pandemic, is to maintain the safety of our residents and staff. We immediately secured personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, rubber gloves and eyewear because we know a healthy officer is a responsive officer. During that time, we experienced a higher volume of calls for medical emergencies, so we relied heavily on our dispatch unit to conduct thorough phone interviews. And we were prepared to provide residents with PPE and on-site medical screenings for the virus, as needed.

You participated in the anti-racism protests held in Oak Park following the death of George Floyd. Why was it important for you to be there?

Every officer in the Oak Park Public Safety Department agrees that Mr. Floyd’s death was a senseless murder that placed additional strains on relationships between many communities and their law enforcement agencies across the country. But in Oak Park, it made our bonds stronger. I was honored to be asked to speak at our local rallies because I felt enraged as well. At that time, it was critical to assure the community that we stand with them and that nothing like that would happen in Oak Park.

The rallies were peaceful, and it was clear that they were not anti-police but protests. We distributed free refreshments and face masks from the Oak Park Public Safety Ice Cream Truck. Officers kneeled with residents in a moment of silence for the loss of Mr. Floyd.

I’ve since heard from numerous residents who want to assure our Public Safety Officers that the support is mutual. This is a great example of what results from community policing. Our residents know and trust us. As you can see, that can make all the difference in a crisis situation.

Have there been any recent changes in the Public Safety Department?

I’m pleased to welcome Public Safety Officer Evan Beauchamp to the Department. He was sworn into service with us this summer. And Officer Donald Hoffman, who’s served the Department for seven-and-a-half years, was recently recruited to serve concurrently on Oakland County’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. I’m extremely proud of both officers and look forward to their contributions to law enforcement and supporting the Oak Park community.

By Mary Meldrum

IT ALL BEGAN WHEN THE OAK PARK LIBRARY ADMINISTRATION CALLED AND ASKED IF SHE WOULD LIKE TO INTERVIEW FOR THE JOB OF DIRECTOR. At the time, for Dr. Karen White-Owens, it seemed like a good change from her job as director at the Lennox Twp. Library in Macomb, not to mention being closer to home.

SHE BEGAN HER POSITION IN OAK PARK ON MARCH 2, AND ALMOST IMMEDIATELY the Library was forced to shut down because of the pandemic. She is happy that the Oak Park Public Library is one of the few that are now open – or, kind-of, anyway. They are only open for grab-and-go, 30-minute visits. You can come in, get what you need and leave. White-Owens explained that people can come and talk to a reference librarian.

White-Owens is an administrator; her role is to make sure that the Library runs properly and that people get in and get the service they need. She performs the scheduling and programming. White-Owens is passionate about programming, and wants to launch a parking-lot-decorating program for example.

“People think libraries are stiff and boring. We give them chalk and other things and they can draw or paint their parking space to reflect what they want to see in their library.” Karen is creative with programming.

She likes for the staff to enjoy programming too. “If you have job satisfaction you will enjoy your work. One member loved science, and we were able to offer many learning experiences around science. We called her “Kathy the Science Lassie,” and she loved it.”

WHITE-OWENS IS A WRITER AND HAS WRITTEN 15 fiction and one nonfiction book. You can find them on Amazon and Overdrive (eBooks).

I asked her if she had a favorite from her creations and she said, “I wrote one that earned a lot of awards; a story about a woman who was really a foster child. The lead character finds her family but they reject her. That book is called Circles of Love.

“When I started writing, I had a goal: First, a paperback, then a hardcover, then a movie deal. I came close to the movie deal. Lifetime Movie Network came calling once, but it didn’t work out.”

White-Owens shared, “I started writing when my mom was sick. Sadly, she passed and never saw any of my books. Writing gives me a place to go. You read to write and write to read. I used to love to read the Detroit Free Press.”

Spare time: “I like to read and go to the movies. October is anti-bullying month. I love to watch the original Karate Kid movie. I love movies; everything but horror. Suspense or thriller, I love that kind of stuff.”

“EVERY WEEK I HAVE A TOPIC RELATED TO WRITING your first novel. There are also stories for children. In November, we will have the children read to the Director of the Children’s Library.”

“We are all navigating this very unusual time. When it is over, I have plans for all types of fun things I want to do with the community.”

Karen encouraged me to go to the website for the Oak Park Public Library. There are many new things to do posted on the site. The Library is open for business! Make time for a visit.

www.oakparkmi.gov/departments/library

By Colton Dale

IN EARLY 2019, TWO POWERHOUSE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS MERGED TO COMBINE THEIR EFFORTS and work as one group toward their common goals of reducing homelessness and expanding Oakland County’s affordable housing stock.

WHAT USED TO BE SOUTH OAKLAND SHELTER AND LIGHTHOUSE OF OAKLAND COUNTY is now simply known as Lighthouse, and their merging of personnel, operations, and missions has only made them stronger.

Shortly after the merger, Lighthouse announced that it cleared a major hurdle in bringing an affordable housing development to Oak Park on Coolidge Hwy between Eight Mile Rd and Nine Mile Rd. A year and a half later, what is now known as the Coolidge Place development is almost complete.

Coolidge Place is an affordable housing project on a 4.5-acre site that is bringing 64 townhouse and ranch-style apartments to Oak Park, as well as green spaces and a community center for residents of the complex to enjoy.

“It is extremely difficult for low-income families to climb out of poverty when housing costs consume most of their income,” said Ryan Hertz, president and CEO of Lighthouse. “We hope Coolidge Place paves the way for more developments that help level the playing field in terms of equitable access to lower-cost, high-quality housing because everyone deserves a place to call home.”

A $15 million project in total, Coolidge Place was made possible in part by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) via a $1.3 million Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. This tax credit is expected to provide roughly $12.5 million in equity toward the total cost of the project, a major financial boost during a time when finding financing can be difficult.

THE NEED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS IN OAKLAND COUNTY has been clear for a long time. Communities like Royal Oak, Ferndale, Birmingham, and others that provide great neighborhoods and bustling commercial districts are often far too costly for many people to afford. This leaves lower and middle-income people out of the discussion when talks arise of growing the County’s population and making it a welcoming place for all. As evidenced in a 2018 report from the Urban Institute, fewer than 50 affordable units are available in Oakland County for every 100 low-income households. This is precisely the gap that Lighthouse seeks to help close, as their mission is to make sure that everyone, regardless of income level, is able to find a quality, affordable home in Oakland County.

“Unfortunately, for all of our wealth, our county is among the worst in the state when it comes to providing available and affordable rental units. We must do far better for our community,” said Hertz. “Coolidge Place will help us begin to chip away at this barrier to economic stability for working families by building dozens of beautiful and affordable apartments for our neighbors.”

With support from City staff and officials, Lighthouse is developing Coolidge Place through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Spero Housing Group, in partnership with Southwest Housing Solutions in Detroit. Fusco, Shaffer & Pappas Inc. is the architect on the project and O’Brien Construction Co. is serving as general contractor with Ethos Development Partners as the development consultant.

“This is an important point in time for our city,” said Oak Park City Manager Erik Tungate. “This project will help spark new development in the immediate area and will transition an otherwise obsolete stretch of property into a vibrant corridor.”

Rents are expected to range from $389/month to $824/month for one, two and three-bedroom units. More information on the Coolidge Place development can be found here: www.southoaklandshelter.org/coolidge-place

By Eric Freeman – Strategic Communications Specialist, City of Oak Park

OAK PARK’S NINE MILE REDESIGN PROJECT BEGAN IN 2014 WITH THE GOAL of creating a vibrant streetscape, vigorous community culture, and additional opportunities for both businesses and consumers. The plan included projects such as a road-diet, back-in angle commercial parking, bike lanes, trailheads, and new public spaces.

THE CITY HOSTED A GRAND OPENING EVENT LAST FALL WITH A NUMBER OF ACTIVITIES for residents and visitors along Nine Mile Road at the Sherman and Seneca Pocket Parks, the Connector Park, and the Trailhead. We celebrated with free food, giveaways, demonstrations and a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by City Manager Erik Tungate, Mayor Marian McClellan, members of Oak Park City Council, and a host of residents.

The following is a breakdown of Oak Park’s Nine Mile Redesign strategies:

Road-Diet

A road-diet is a tactic for improving driver and pedestrian safety by reducing the number of driving lanes on a street. Last year, Oak Park residents initiated a Facebook discussion about integrating pedestrian and bicycle access on the City’s main streets. The City conducted a traffic study and learned that there was no need for five driving lanes on Nine Mile Road, and that reducing the number of lanes would not significantly impact automobile travel times. As a result, the automobile lanes were reduced from five or four lanes (depending on the area) down to three lanes, creating a safe path for cyclists between the sidewalks and the road. This strategy also has the potential to lower auto accident statistics by 19-47 percent. The lane replacement project includes on-street parking, a walking area, and bicycle lanes.

Back-In Angle Commercial Parking

Instead of requiring standard parallel parking along Nine Mile Road, the City has implemented a safer, back-in angle method. Drivers have a clearer line of sight to detect oncoming traffic as they exit parking spots. The requirement also makes more room for additional parking spaces.

Trailheads

Trailheads are monuments that mark the center of bike lanes and walking paths. The display features a directional kiosk, public art, and information about bicycle-related amenities.

Bike Lanes

Bike lanes are essential in the redesign since statistics show that they help significantly lower accidents and injuries. Also, bike lanes are expected to help increase consumer activity at local businesses.

New Public Spaces

Another redesign strategy is to increase the number of leisure spots for public enjoyment, such as the two pocket parks on Seneca St. and Sherman St., and the linear park along the Nine Mile Road corridor. Due to their aesthetic appeal, pocket parks have the potential to boost home values by $10,000 for residential owners on nearby blocks. The City currently estimates close to 900 visits to Oak Park’s pocket parks per week based on WIFI logins. The second phase of the project will result in additional public spaces along Nine Mile Road westward to the border of Southfield.

 

For more information regarding the Nine Mile Redesign
project, visit the City’s website at www.bit.ly/NineMileRedesign
or like the City of Oak Park’s Nine Mile Redesign Facebook
page at www.facebook.com/NineMileRedesign.

 

By Colton Dale

ONCE A DULL AND DRAB LIGHT INDUSTRIAL CORRIDOR, ELEVEN MILE RD between Greenfield Rd and Coolidge Hwy. is going through a total transformation. Much like the Nine Mile Redesign, City officials saw potential in Eleven Mile that hadn’t yet been unlocked. So, they took it upon themselves to make a difference and bring out the best in one of Oak Park’s unique business districts.

IN 2018, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR KIM MARRONE AND CITY PLANNER KEVIN RULKOWSKI worked with the Oak Park Planning Commission to rezone three blocks of Eleven Mile between Greenfield and Coolidge; the blocks between Tulare St. and Gardens St. to be exact. They were rezoned from LI (Light Industrial) to a brand new zone called MX-1 (Mixed-Use).

Previously, those three blocks were zoned for things like small manufacturing, warehouses, storage facilities and other light industrial operations. Now, the allowed uses are much more exciting and consist of business types aimed at drawing in people from all over the region: restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, bakeries and more. The three rezoned blocks are specifically prime for this new classification because of the large public parking lots in the rear. Since the rezoning took place, investment and development in the area has taken off.

Unexpected Craft Brewing Company

THE FIRST BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT TO BE ANNOUNCED AFTER THE REZONING was Unexpected Craft Brewing Company (UCBC), at 14401 Eleven Mile Rd the former location of a small parts manufacturer. Originally

announced in 2018, this project has faced considerable obstacles but is moving forward with perseverance. UCBC will be the second location for proprietor and head brewer Edward Stencel of River Rouge Brewing Company in Royal Oak.

The new brewery will house brewing operations as well as a tasting room (and possibly space designated for food trucks), and it was all made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD). The MDARD grant helped Stencel cover the costs of the expansion and purchasing new brewing equipment.

“Ultimately, this grant allows us to expand into Oak Park. Without it, it would be very difficult to make this jump because of the overall costs and expenses of the project,” said Stencel at the time. “It’s going to help with the infrastructure, the plumbing and adding additional cold rooms, as well as allowing us to use more Michigan agricultural products and increase our overall production.”

Look for Unexpected Craft Brewing Company to open on Eleven Mile in the coming months.

Oak Park Social

ANOTHER EXCITING DEVELOPMENT OPENING SOON ON THE ELEVEN MILE CORRIDOR IS OAK PARK SOCIAL, a gastropub to be located at 14691 Eleven Mile Rd.

First announced in May 2019, Oak Park Social sits right under Oak Park’s iconic and newly renovated water tower. It will feature an outdoor patio and offer a menu consisting of artisan-inspired New American cuisine that features unique shareables, chef-driven entrées and vegetarian options.

“We knew Oak Park was a great choice because of their recent investments in infrastructure and their strong focus on economic development,” said Oak Park Social proprietor Alexander Bishai. “We sincerely believe in Oak Park and the City’s vision for Eleven Mile Road. We will continue to invest in the City of Oak Park and assist in forging the path for Oak Park to be labeled as a destination for food, spirits and hospitality in Metro Detroit.”

Scheduled to open this Summer, work was stalled for a while and the project pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Work has resumed, though, and residents can look forward to this unique neighborhood eatery opening very soon.

Dog and Pony Show Brewing

IN ADDITION TO UNEXPECTED CRAFT BREWING COMPANY, Oak Park is getting a second brewery on Eleven Mile! Dog and Pony Show Brewing is anticipated to open up some time later this year or early next year in the old Randolph Tool Building located at 14661 Eleven Mile Rd. Unlike some other industries, two breweries in close proximity to each other can actually benefit one another. With their own unique traits and offerings, both brewing operations should draw plenty of interest.

Dog and Pony will be complete with an outdoor front patio, offerings of both beer and cider, and an event space for when larger social gatherings are safe to hold again.

Proprietors Aaron and Josh Gierada come from an entrepreneurial background and are determined to make their brewing operation a success. “Anything you do, you have to do with passion and we will make it a success,” Kyle Gierada said.

Oak Parker

ANOTHER RESTAURANT IS IN THE WORKS on Eleven Mile – this one outside of the new mixed-use zone, though. Near the corner of Eleven Mile and Coolidge, Oak Parker will be a hip new bistro located at 13621 Eleven Mile Rd.

From renowned restaurant operator Joe Bongiovanni, Oak Parker will feature outdoor seating, a basement lounge, and various spirits. Of Salvatore Scallopini and OWL fame, Bongiovanni knows what it takes to bring a great eatery to a previously uncharted area and turn it into a massive success. Architecture firm Ron & Roman are designing the interior and exterior of the building to be modern, chic, and welcoming to all. Planned to open later this year, you’ll definitely want to add this spot to your “must-try” list.

Kroger

IN ADDITION TO ALL THE EXCITING DEVELOPMENTS HAPPENING on the Eleven Mile corridor, the new Kroger grocery store will be located right around the corner on Greenfield. Currently wrapping up construction, the Kroger will feature a grocery pickup service, pharmacy, and a fuel center. The biggest development in Oak Park since FedEx, this project is sure to be another catalyst for growth on the Eleven Mile corridor as well as the shopping center directly adjacent to it.

With all that is going on in Oak Park, and specifically on Eleven Mile Rd, it’s hard to keep up! Stay tuned for updates and announcements about even more developments coming soon. To learn more about the City of Oak Park’s economic development efforts, visit their webpage.

www.oakparkmi.gov/departments/
community_and_economic_development/
index.php

By Colton Dale

IF YOU EMERGED FROM YOUR HOME EARLY THIS SUMMER AFTER THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN AND WONDERED what those new red bikes are that you see all over town, you’re not alone.

IN THE BEGINNING OF JUNE, A PLAN FROM CITY ADMINISTRATION, COMMUNITY LEADERS, AND TRANSPORTATION ADVOCATES finally came to fruition when MoGo Bike Share launched its expansion from Detroit northward into five communities in southeast Oakland County. Starting at 44 stations across 10 Detroit neighborhoods, mostly in the Greater Downtown area, to then adding 30 new stations spread out through Oak Park, Ferndale, Berkley, Huntington Woods, and Royal Oak, MoGo has expanded their footprint in a massive way. Now, thousands more Metro Detroiters have quick and easy access to an affordable, well-managed bike share system that can help them run errands, get to work, or simply get more exercise.“We are proud to be a partner with MoGo as they expand their reach into Oakland County,” said Oak Park City Manager Erik Tungate. “The expansion of the service area in our community has given our residents another public transportation resource to utilize for commuting and running errands. This is undoubtedly another huge step towards improving the quality of life throughout our community.”

Of the 30 new stations in Southeast Oakland County, there are a total of five in Oak Park:

OAK PARK BLVD. & PARKLAWN ST. (In front of the Community Center.)

NINE MILE RD. & MANISTEE ST. (Near the Seneca Pocket Park.)

COOLIDGE HWY. & LINCOLN ST. (On the border of Huntington Woods.)

• GREENFIELD RD. & LINCOLN ST. (Near the new Kroger location.)

ELEVEN MILE RD. & TYLER ST. (On the border of Berkley, near exciting new developments.)IF YOU’VE NEVER USED THE MOGO BIKE SHARE SYSTEM BEFORE, IT’S VERY SIMPLE. Riders can purchase one of the various passes online, on a smartphone with the Transit app, or at any one of the new stations. After you make your payment, you are provided a unique code to unlock a bike. Select a bike, type in your code to unlock it, and you’re on your way. When you’re done, simply find the nearest MoGo station to return your bike and lock it up. To lock it properly, slide the bike back into an empty dock and wait for the green light to appear. When the green light is displayed you know you’ve locked it up properly. If the bike isn’t properly docked back up, you may continue to be charged.

The expansion efforts came after two-plus years of meticulous planning, organizing, and decision-making. Of course, it helped tremendously that MoGo and the expansion communities received a $495,380 grant as part of the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). This funding helped move the project from idea to reality. It helped pay for the stations, bikes, and construction involved in putting the expansion into action.

The new MoGo bikes come at a great time for Oak Park, too. As the Nine Mile Redesign finished up in the Fall, the MoGo station on Nine Mile Rd kitty corner from the new Seneca Pocket Park followed shortly after. With a new road diet, bike lanes, and bike parking, getting from A to B on two wheeled, man-powered transportation has never been easier.

So the next time you see a red MoGo bike riding around your neighborhood, think about hopping on one yourself. Not only are they affordable and environmentally-friendly, but they also can help you get to your job, visit a friend, run errands, get more exercise and much more!

To learn more about MoGo, visit www.mogodetroit.org.

By Rose Carver

HER NAME IS YEMISI BAMISAYE, AND SHE IS THE OWNER AND DESIGNER at African Fashions by Classic Expressions. Bamisaye was born in Nigeria and has been a student of fabric and design since the age of seven, when she taught her tiny fingers how to sew.

BAMISAYE, WHO ALSO HAS A DEGREE IN MICROBIOLOGY, specializes in African fabrics. What started as a hobby grew into a profession when she migrated to the United States 29 years ago. With her, she brought a passion for fabrics and the story behind the design.

Vibrant colors, natural shapes, and luxurious textures are common among the artistry of the fabrics at Bamisaye’s store, but this wasn’t always the case. Bamisaye’s first store was located at Tel-Twelve Mall in Southfield. She sold everything from pant suits to dresses of the more common variety, with some African fabrics available. Her shop has since moved to Oak Park on 9 Mile, and it is now exclusively African fashions and accessories.

“Our customers rely on us for authentic African fashions and fabrics,” Bamisaye said.

AFRICAN FABRIC PATTERNS ARE USUALLY BRIGHTLY COLORED, AND REPRESENT STORIES OF POLITICAL OR RELIGIOUS RELEVANCE. Each color has a meaning, from red representing death, to blue signifying love and peace. Entering Bamisaye’s shop, you will learn the significance behind these patterns.

“Customers enjoy the fact that I can tell them the history behind some of the designs,” Bamisaye said.

Anyone can view the inventory of this Oak Park gem online at GlobalAfricanCreates.com. Dresses, head wraps, and skirts are available for purchase, as well as masks with African prints, for those looking to spice up their pandemic wardrobe.

African Fashions by Classic Expressions is
open to the public 11:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.,
Monday through Saturday 10820 West
9 Mile Road, in Oak Park.

 

By Jennifer Goeddeke

DETROIT AUTO ELECTRIC (DAE) IS A FLEET SERVICE & MANAGEMENT COMPANY, WITH AN EXTENSIVE HISTORY. I recently visited their facility at 21040 Coolidge in Oak Park and spoke with both Sue Cetnar (office manager) and Shawn Castle (president/operations manager). Despite being under the pressure of a pressing deadline, they both gave me a warm welcome and and considerable time in sharing some details about DAE.

THE COMPANY WAS ORIGINALLY FORMED IN 1937 BY RUSS TILLIT, AND WAS SITUATED ON WARREN AVENUE. A few years later, in 1941, DAE moved to 8040 Livernois. Subsequently, Charles Davidge purchased the company in 1971, and they moved to 8113 W. 8 Mile in 1983. All three of these former locales were in Detroit.

The company focus gradually shifted over the years, from auto maintenance to the maintenance of trucks, trailers and vans. A number of their service features keep customers returning because they go beyond what a typical fleet management company would do. Even though DAE does not own the trucks, Cetnar emphasized that they treat each one as though it directly belonged to them. She described DAE’s basis for its success as centered on excellent customer service, with consistent communication via email or phone.

Every aspect of truck maintenance is conducted in-house, including the electrical and transmission work, with a top-to-bottom check of vehicles during every appointment. Detailed tracking records via specialized software enable the staff to keep customers informed on everything that needs to be checked. Roadside service for their customers is also offered.

DAE HAS MADE SUSTAINABILITY A PRIORITY, IN OFFERING a comprehensive Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system. This greatly lowers the level of emissions and helps substantially with air quality by recirculating and burning off nitrogen oxide fumes. The system also adds to the longevity of the trucks, by efficiently keeping the EGR circuit, oil and fuel systems completely clean. Cetnar added, “we believe in it, and other places charge triple what we do.”

A week before the outbreak of Covid19 in the US, DAE lost its biggest account: Art Van. This cornerstone of Detroit furniture store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and began liquidation sales at its 190 stores. The Art Van account involved the maintenance of over 600 trucks, many of which were just left on DAE’s lot. The whole situation was a big challenge.

Fortunately, the Taylor & Martin auction company offered to help. So they got to work getting the trucks up to full running standards, including the replacement of batteries and other differing degrees of mechanical work.

Quite a few of the trucks’ buyers were located out-of-state. Thus, the entire process needed careful coordination. Just as I was conducting the interview, the deadline for the trucks’ pickup had arrived. Cetnar mentioned their staff had been working around the clock to meet this deadline, “because a sitting truck is a big deal…we needed them to be okay, so we stayed busy!”

DAE kept the costs reasonable, and it turned into a win-win situation all-around. Additionally, a few other companies contacted them for work, including Forgotten Harvest. “They are running trucks massively”, Cetnar added. “It was a great way for DAE to bounce back” she added with a smile.

2021 marks the 50th year anniversary of ownership under Davidge. Cetnar and Castle will be planning a party for customers and guests. Further updates will be posted on their website/social media accounts. We wish them continued success in re-building new accounts, and keeping their fleets in top running condition!

Detroit Auto Electric Fleet Services is located at: 21040 Coolidge
in Oak Park. They can be reached at 248.543.8805. Visit their
interactive website: www.daefleet.com for further information.