Hazel Park 75th Anniversary
Hazel Park 75th Anniversary Edition

By Maggie Boleyn
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

ONE GREAT BUILDING DOES NOT MAKE A GREAT CITY,” is a quote attributed to the British architect Thomas Heatherwick. However, when the building in question is the seat of most city services, as well as a courthouse and jail, an adequate building is a practical necessity. On the eve of the City’s 75th anniversary, the citizens of Hazel Park received a great building in the form of a remodeled and expanded City Hall.
“I feel that the expansion and remodeling gives the ‘official’ corner of the city a badly needed update,” said Richard Robbins, a member of Hazel Park’s Historical Commission. “The exterior remodel meshes with the architecture, since both are Japanese-based design,” he continued.

Chuck Gladue, another member of Hazel Park’s Historical Commission, adds “I was happy to see it done. The building was in sad shape. This has turned one of the worst buildings into one of the best-looking on John R.” Gladue pointed out that the project was achieved without costing additional taxpayer dollars.
The timeline for a single structure providing a variety of governmental serv-ices in Hazel Park begins nearly 90 years ago. In 1928, Howard Beecher, who later became principal of the High School, made a passionate plea for Hazel Park to become a city. He argued that a seat of local government was needed in Hazel Park, which was a rapidly expanding area. At one point, Hazel Park had the largest population residing in an unincorporated area in the entire country.

“There are many things that could be done under local government that cannot be done under the present form,” Beecher wrote. At that time, Town-ship offices were inconveniently located in Royal Oak, four miles away. Even worse, county offices were “16 miles distant” in the city of Pontiac. “It is a real job to make progress in a community where there are 14,000 people with no local government,” Beecher argued.
Beecher also pointed out that four deputy sheriffs appointed by the County Sheriff of Pontiac, were headquartered in a police booth located at “the main corner of the district” at John R and 9 Mile. The police booth was paid for and moved to the corner by the local Exchange Club.

Robbins notes that the present-day City Hall is also home to the courthouse. “It was built as a multi-purpose facility,” he said of the building which has stood on the corner of 9 Mile and John R since the 1970s. In addition to court offices on the upper floor, the Hazel Park Police Department (HPPD) is headquartered on the lower floor. A door from one of the court rooms allows police to bring prisoners from the jail right into the courtroom. Prior to the original construction of the present site, Robbins said, there really were no previous courthouses, “unless you consider the other two city halls.”

Gladue said that previous city business and City Council meetings were held in the original library building on Pearl Street. Later, City offices were located on 9 Mile east of John R where the present-day Checker’s Restaurant stands. This location, built in the 1940s, was chosen to be close to the police and fire departments. “The first full city hall was located at Stephenson and Rhodes,” Gladue said.
The turbulent decade of the 1960s brought dramatic change to our nation and also to the city of Hazel Park. As Lucille Lacey documented, the I-75 freeway expansion uprooted a portion of the John R business district as well as the “modern era” City Hall. During the construction on the present-day site, city offices were moved to the present-day Recreation Center on Woodward Heights.

At present, in addition to space for the usual City services such as the Water Department, Code Enforcement, the Hazel Park Police Department (HPPD) and other City offices, the remodeled building has expanded the space used for the 43rd District Court in Hazel Park. Hazel Park’s City Council also holds meetings in the building.

During the remodeling project, Longfellow School was revamped and put into service as a Courthouse. HPPD transported prisoners from the jail to Longfellow and back again.
Beth Holland, a member of the Historical Commission and a city council-person, notes that the completed remodel has reaped benefits for residents. She said that the first Council meeting in the new space provided improved acoustics and a better quality of sound for broadcasting meetings via cable TV. Holland points out that the remodel has made the building fully compliant with Americans with Disabilities regulations. “We’re in 2017 now,” she said of the new space.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS MAINTAINS MANY FUNCTIONS OF THE CITY. Many of these duties change with the seasons. In the warm weather, the department cuts many acres of lawn at our 13 parks and municipal buildings, the street sweeper sweeps the entire city every two weeks, tree crews maintain over 4,100 city trees, and road crews do their best to keep our streets free of pot holes. In the cold weather months, crews keep our roads safe by salting and plowing the streets when needed.

Throughout the year, DPW crews use our garbage truck to empty all city garbage cans along John R and 9 Mile Roads and all City parks. Our mechanic staff maintains all city vehicles and equipment at the DPW garage. The DPW also prepares and sets up special events such as the Memorial Day Festival and Parade, the Art Fair and the Santa Hat 5K run. The Department of Public Works is on call 24/7 for any issues that may happen after hours, including the flood of 2014, the 9 Mile Bridge fire of 2009 and any other issues big or small.

The City of Hazel Park’s Water-Sewer Department was established in 1951. The Water-Sewer Department is responsible for monitoring and servicing the city’s water distribution system, sanitary sewer system and storm sewer system.

Year-round preventative maintenance with many other tasks is the key to keeping the city’s water-sewer system operational and in compliance with all state and federal regulations. Constant care to the system is essential, not only for the consumer’s daily needs, but also the need to be ready for unforeseen emergencies. Fire fighters rely on good water pressure and availability to combat fires quickly.

So, just how big is the water-sewer system for the City of Hazel Park? Most people do not understand the magnitude of a water-sewer system because it is mostly underground and out of sight.

The city’s water system consists of just less than 60 miles of water main, with an approximate 643 operating water main gate valves which serves just over 7500 water consumers. The City purchases clean, safe drinking water from the City of Detroit’s Water & Sewer Department (DWSD); this is the same for just about all cities in the Tri-County area. The City also has three large pressure control valves at each DWSD connection to keep the water system stabilized.

There are approximately 483 fire hydrants, each with an auxiliary valve, throughout the city. About 1,869 storm sewer catch basin drains within the city are each connected to underground pipes to take away surface water. About two-thirds of these city storm drains go directly to the Michigan Great Lakes system, thus the city over- sees a “Watershed Protection” program to protect the natural waters of the state. The
other one third of the city’s storm drains discharge into a combined storm/sanitary sewer system. The sanitary sewer system (including the combined system) is just about equal to the same mileage as the water system. It carries sanitary sewage to a DWSD waste water treatment plant.

The City has an aggressive cleaning program to keep both the sanitary and storm sewer systems working properly.

This great task of maintaining the city’s water-sewer system is performed by a dedicated staff consisting of a full-time supervisor, six full-time employees, two part-time employees, two full time office staff, and two mechanics. Though our team works a 40-hour work week, they are on call 24/7 for city emergencies that occur at any time day or night. This division is overseen by the Director of Public Works.

In addition to their water-sewer responsibilities, the staff and crew also assists other city departments in times of emergencies and other miscellaneous issues that occur from time to time. Municipalities are always facing new challenges, in good times or bad, their dedication never wavers.

By Sara E. Teller
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

THE ERICKSON BUILDING, LOCATED AT 45 EAST PEARL STREET IN HAZEL PARK, WAS ORIGINALLY HOME TO THE CITY’S FIRST LIBRARY. Built in 1940 and given its name by John Erickson (former superintendent of the city’s schools), with the help of a dedicated team of local volunteers, construction was funded by card parties and various community fundraisers. “There is an architectural drawing done around 1937 that we still have in our possession,” explains Hazel Park’s Historical Commission Chair, Richard E. Robbins, of the original site plans. “This shows an art deco look to the building. It was not built to concept, but has been built with styling cues for the 1940s.”

In 1942, the Erickson Building was the site of Hazel Park’s first city council meeting. However, as the community’s population grew following the boom of the Ford Motor Company and library demand increased, it became evident that expansion of the Pearl Street site was too limited to continue using the building for its original purpose. A new library was constructed at 123 E 9 Mile Road and, realizing the importance of maintaining the Erickson fixture, the Historical Commission approached the school board to ask if it could be used instead for displaying artifacts and hosting historical tours. “The Erickson Building is the oldest civic building left in the city,” Robbins says. It had become a staple in the community and simply needed to be re-purposed.

In response, a cooperative agreement was drafted by Dr. Amy Kruppe, current superintendent of Hazel Park’s schools, with the help of Edward Klobucher, City Manager, to lease and maintain the building. “Amy and Edward as well as the maintenance staff…have worked tirelessly to make the building ready for use again after about ten years,” Robbins says.

The Hazel Park Historical Commission now hosts its regular meetings at the Erickson Building, having relocated from its original space. 200 people were in attendance at the Commission’s first meeting held at the new location, including John Erickson himself. The Erickson Building became home to Hazel Park’s Historical Museum on February 2, 2017, Hazel Park’s 75th Anniversary. “It is currently being refurbished inside for the new Historical Museum, and is serving as a meeting space for the surrounding community as needed,” says Robbins.

The revamped site is meant to be utilized by Hazel Park natives and visitors alike. And, although events are currently limited, the Commission hopes to expand the use of its space as the museum evolves. “The building is intended for the use of residents and nonresidents interested in viewing the museum and those interested in using [it] as a meeting space,” Robbins says. The Historical Commission is still throwing around ideas for other regular and special occasion events that could be planned at the Erickson Building. Children’s and family-friendly events are among options being

in attendance at the Commission’s first meeting held at the new location, including John Erickson himself. The Erickson Building became home to Hazel Park’s Historical Museum on February 2, 2017, Hazel Park’s 75th Anniversary. “It is currently being refurbished inside for the new Historical Museum, and is serving as a meeting space for the surrounding community as needed,” says Robbins.

The revamped site is meant to be utilized by Hazel Park natives and visitors alike. And, although events are currently limited, the Commission hopes to expand the use of its space as the museum evolves. “The building is intended for the use of residents and nonresidents interested in viewing the museum and those interested in using [it] as a meeting space,” Robbins says. The Historical Commission is still throwing around ideas for other regular and special occasion events that could be planned at the Erickson Building. Children’s and family-friendly events are among options being considered.

For specific needs, members can be reached at the Commission’s Facebook page at facebook.com/hazelparkhistorical, blog at hazelparkhistorical.x10host.com
or via email at hphistorical@gmail.com.

By Mary Meldrum
Photos by Bernie Laframboise and from the HPAC

IN ONE OF THE BUILDINGS OWNED BY THE CITY OF HAZEL PARK AT 24211 COUZENS AVE., HAZEL PARK ANIMAL CONTROL has a small office – it really consists of just a desk amidst the cages in the cinder block room. From this modest headquarters, Hazel Park’s Animal Control Officer, Justin Holland, and his small dedicated band of volunteers manage a myriad of animal-related issues for the city of Hazel Park.

The Hazel Park Animal Shelter cares for local strays, feral cats and dogs, animals abandoned by their owners, animals seized from owners due to improper care, surrendered animals, and house bite cases. They are just starting to do direct adoptions, and they also sometimes work with local rescues to find the right homes for the animals at the shelter. Adoption applications are available for those interested in animals at the shelter. They currently have a 90 per cent return and placement rate through their Facebook postings. Lost pets and animals looking for a new home tend to find one quickly.

The Hazel Park Animal Control Shelter Facebook page was designed to get the word out about the shelter, as well as provide residents a way to spread the news about lost/found pets in and around the city. The page has a healthy turnover of pictures and information on the dogs and cats that are being kept and then reunited with their owners through the shelter. Additionally, adoptable pets from the Hazel Park Animal Shelter are posted on PetFinder.com.

There are 21 cages for cats and eight kennels for dogs (with two outdoor dog runs that can be used in weather above 40 degrees). Volunteers are at the shelter two or three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to make sure the animals are fed and cared for as well as to help the public with other animal-related problems.

While larger cities have more resources and more open land, the city of Hazel Park is just under two square miles, making the capture and release of wild animal pests impossible for the small crew at animal control. The City Code Department handles any rat infestation issues, while the raccoons and opossum complaints are farmed out to the proper third-party organizations.

While there are some open and available cages now, there are times where the shelter has an increase in resident cats and/or dogs. Late fall tends to be a big time for cats being reported and brought to the shelter. Well-meaning citizens are under the impression that the cat might not survive the approaching cold weather and call the Shelter to come pick up the cat. Stray animals, bite cases, domestic and wild road kills and lost animals at large are the responsibility of the Animal Control department. The biggest part of Justin’s day is split between care for the animals in the shelter and keeping his paperwork up to date. Other than a designated part-time Shelter Manager who is paid for two hours a day, Justin is the only employee of Animal Control. He has been the Animal Control Officer for a year-and-a-half, after spending four years in the Code Department for the city.

The shelter is experiencing good times. The Facebook page is more active than ever and the shelter has put a few policies in place that help dogs and cats get recovered and get them home faster. At least once a year the Hazel Park Animal Control Shelter hosts a low-cost vaccination clinic. It is a great opportunity for pet owners; for $30 you can get complete immunization for your dog or cat. They have also just instituted policies recently where police officers can bring dogs and cats into the shelter after hours and call one of the shelter volunteers to meet them most hours of the night. This has greatly reduced the “returned home” turnaround time for many dogs and cats who end up at the shelter from days to mere hours. Lost animals are posted on the “For the Love of Louie” Facebook page, as well as other local forums that help to reunite pets with their owners.

Justin was very clear about thanking the City Council of Hazel Park for keeping the Animal Control Department in its budget planning. With so many responsibilities, Hazel Park chooses to be a small city with a big heart for animals and the people who regard them as family members.

ESTABLISHED IN 2016, THE HAZEL PARK GROWERS & MAKERS MARKET is dedicated to providing a welcoming and comfortable outdoor environment for our community to gather and have weekly access to healthy, fresh, and high-quality produce and cottage food products. Our market is focused on presenting our local agricultural entrepreneurs and vendors a stable avenue and space for their business’s growth. We intend to celebrate our community’s cultural and economic diversity through the offerings of nutritious seasonal food, social and educational activities and events, and partnering with other charitable organizations to improve the overall quality of life for our residents. We will always strive to make the Hazel Park Growers & Makers Market an appealing destination for our local families and neighboring communities to visit and enjoy our charming hospitality.

FOUNDERS: Jennifer Jackson and Leigh McLaughlin. Began discussing the market in August of 2015. They met with Ed Klobucher and Jeffrey Campbell from the City of HP, who were extremely supportive. The market is structured as a volunteer organization under the City’s umbrella. It is operated by volunteers only. There are no paid staff.
ASSOCIATIONS: The market is a member of the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). Both Jennifer and Leigh became certified market managers through MIFMA, after attending courses at the Michigan State Extension in Jackson, MI, as well as participating in many online courses.
MARKET DAYS: Sunday, from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., from June 19 through September 4, 2016

WHERE: The market is held along the walking path, near the pavilions at Green Acres Park, in Hazel Park. The park is located behind the Hazel Park Department of Recreation.

VENDORS: The market had 3 farmers, 3 cottage food vendors with baked goods, and 1 natural cosmetics vendor during the 2016 season.

COMMUNITY GARDEN. Hazel Park currently has two community gardens. The first was established by the Neighborhood Enrichment Commit-tee in 2005 at Kennedy Park. It has 19 plots available for rent every year. The rental fee is $25 per plot, per season. For more information please call 248.547.5535. The Merrill Street Garden Club features 17 4’x8’ raised garden beds. Rental fee is $25 per box, per season. Information on renting the plots is available through the Parks and Recreation Department. 248.547.5535.
HAZEL PARK ANIMAL CONTROL (HPAC) shelter cares for strays, animals abandoned by their owners, animals seized from owners due to improper care, surrendered animals and house bite cases. “The City has been gracious enough to approve direct adoption,” Justin Holland explains, which reduces the time in which animals find new homes. Visit www.facebook.com/hpacshelter or email HPAC48030@gmail.com.
HAZEL PARK ARTS COUNCIL “makes art happen” through its resources and connections, advises the city on acceptance, purchases and integration of art into public and private development, and participates in and subscribes to arts organizations within the state to continually develop strategic relationships with art professionals. Contact: thehazelparkartscouncil@gmail.com or visit
HAZEL PARK ATHLETIC BOOSTER CLUB is an organization whose sole purpose is to enhance the athletic experience of all Hazel Park athletes by furnishing athletic needs above and beyond the basics, which are supplied by the School District.
Contact 248.658-5150 or hphs. athleticboosters@hazel.parkschools.org, or visit www.facebook.com/hazelpark.boosters.
HAZEL PARK COMMUNI-D BBQ takes place the second Saturday of every month, year-round. CommuniD BBQs start at 1:00pm and go until the party’s over. Call 313.444.0463 or email contact@elevatedetroit.com.
HAZEL PARK CREATIVE ARTS is a recognized nonprofit, charitable organization. Its mission is to promote, enhance and maintain an enthusiastic interest in the arts in the Hazel Park Michigan community through fundraising and assistance as necessary. Visit the organization’s Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/pg/hpcreative arts, its website at www.hpcreativearts.org or email info@hpcreativearts.org.

HAZEL PARK EAGLES #2449 is a non-profit organization that helps several different charities in our community, such as cancers and the Max Baer Heart Fund. We are a private club that loves helping our community. For information on volunteering or membership, please contact Tom Clark at 248-548-7547.
HAZEL PARK LAND CURE is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the housing and transforming vacant spaces in Hazel Park, as well as improving the City’s overall economic development. The organization is located at 111 E. Nine Mile Rd. for more information, contact Executive Director Jeff Campbell at 248.546.4060 or jeffreycam@gmail.com.

HAZEL PARK LIBRARY FRIENDS is a volunteer group dedicated to enhancing library services at the Hazel Park District Library. Their fund-raising efforts help support library programming, collections, and technology upgrades. Meetings are the 4th Thursday monthly at the Library. Email hplfriends1@gmail.com or call 248.546.4095.
THE PURPOSE OF THE LIONS CLUB International Foundation is to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding. The Hazel Park Club is located at 23109 Harding. For more information, call 248.548.7547.

HAZEL PARK’S NEIGHBORHOOD ENRICHMENT founded the community garden at Kennedy Park, gives out curb appeal awards and decorates city hall for the holidays. The program built raised garden beds at Jardon school and planted the flowers at City Hall. For more information, visit the Facebook page at (search Hazel-Park-Neighborhood-Enrichment) or call 248.525-7193.

HAZEL PARK PROMISE ZONE guarantees all resident graduates of Hazel Park Schools a tuition-free path to an associate’s degree, often through pre-existing scholarships. This opportunity can be used at any accredited trade school, community college, college or university in the state of Michigan. A Promise Zone scholarship is paid directly to a student’s institution to cover tuition and fees only. Contact Executive Director Kayla Roney-Smith at 248. 658.5107 or kaylaroney@hazelparkschools.org.
HAZEL PARK WILD WINGS, a fully stocked bird infirmary and nursery, is dedicated to caring for the area’s injured birds and abandoned baby birds. Wild Wings accepts songbirds, as well as crows, pigeons, and mourning doves. Those inquiring about any others can contact the Michigan DNR office. For more information, please contact founder and owner Marg Sapp at 248.701.2523 or WWbirdrehab@comcast.net, or visit the organization’s website at wildwingsbirdrehab.org.
THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS is the world’s largest organization of Catholic men and their families. Today the Knights have grown to nearly 11,000 councils. The Hazel Park Chapter is located at 50 E. Annabelle. To get involved, email hazelparkkofc@live.com or call 248.542.8060.

THE SOUTH EAST OAKLAND DEMOCRATIC CLUB covers the cities of Hazel Park and Madison Heights, Michigan, to promote and elect Democrats to public office. Our club meets the second Thursday of the month. To get on our mailing list, email us at seoaklanddemocraticclub@gmail.com or see our event schedule: https://ocdp.org/clubs/southeast-oakland.