Hazel Park City Guide 2018
2018 Hazel Park City Guide

By Sara E. Teller

THE HAZEL PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT WAS ORIGINALLY ESTABLISHED IN THE 1940S WITH JUST A HANDFUL OF OFFICERS. Since then it has grown ten-fold, with at least three dozen full-time members in addition to those employed part-time. Chief of Police Brian Buchholz has been at the Department for just over two decades, taking an entry level position in 1998 as a patrol officer. Since then, Buchholz has been promoted several times, moving up the ranks and becoming a sergeant, detective, and lieutenant with various responsibilities, until ultimately reaching his current post.

“I have been here for over 20 years. This was my first police job,” Buchholz explained. “I started as a patrolman at 23. I was pretty young when I got my start. In 2009, I was promoted to sergeant and, in 2012, to lieutenant. I’ve been chief for seven months now.” He added, “I’m still getting used to the job. I have many sleepless nights with stuff running through my head, but I get a lot of help from my team.”

Buchholz has also been a records bureau supervisor, personnel equipment supervisor, and hiring administrator as well as internal investigations coordinator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ferris State University, and has gained extensive in-service training in a wide range of disciplines designed to help him under-stand how best to respond to difficult situations. Some of these include active-shooter and deadly-force encounters, specialized interviewing, interrogation, and combat techniques. He has received a certificate of merit from the City of Hazel Park as well as letters of commendation and appreciation from the neighboring communities of Ferndale and Madison Heights.

Buchholz’s wide range of experience lends well to his current position. “This is a small town and we’re a smaller department than most. So, we’re a tight knit group. We help each other out. We all do each other’s jobs and know what’s going on in the city. I’ll pick up the phone at the front desk from time to time. We just all help each other get the job done.”

IN LOOKING AFTER A SMALL TOWN, it’s necessary for members of the Hazel Park PD to keep a close working relationship with the City Council and local residents. “Mr. Klobucher has been Hazel Park’s City Manager for quite a while and knows how to get us to communicate with each other. We also have weekly staff meetings, so departments can get in touch with one another and better serve our residents. I have an open-door policy here and people will stop by and see me from time to time to talk about a number of things.”

The Department has long prided itself on its quick response time whenever officers are called for duty. “As a small town, we should be getting there quickly but it’s just something we’ve always focused on and done well, and we’re always working on,” Buchholz said, adding, “We really rely on residents to be our eyes and ears on the streets, though.”

As a tight-knit community, citizens of Hazel Park are able to benefit from services not typically found in larger areas. “We are able to serve residents with specific needs and do things for them that bigger cities simply can’t,” explained Buchholz.

“We assign officers to the same areas, so they can get to know residents and there are many who consider the officers their friends. They’re on a first-name basis with them. When our citizens are comfortable, it makes our jobs a whole lot easier. It helps everyone rest easier.”

The Department not only relies on the help of its sworn-in staff, the City, and call-ins from residents, it has also put together a few community policing programs that help keep the crime rate down and the city functioning as it should.

THIS SPECIAL PROGRAM IS NOW CALLED the “Reserve Unit,” and consists of volunteer police who supplement Hazel Park Police officers at special events and activities, emergencies, disasters, or other assignments as determined by Buchholz. The volunteer officers undergo training at the reserve academy. They offer their time and services to the Department, which is highly valuable when extra helping hands are needed.

“Members of this unit attend community events, such as the annual Memorial Day Parade and carnival,” Buchholz said. “They will also attend local sporting activities, such as basketball and football games, and ride along in patrol cars with full-time officers.”

The volunteers wear police uniforms and are able to perform many of the same tasks while
on duty. Their assistance is appreciated.

THE HAZEL PARK NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH is an organized group of civilians who help to prevent crime. Should members see anything suspicious, they must report this to authorities rather than intervene themselves.

“One of the reserve officers who is a dispatcher here runs it,” Buchholz explained. “It’s intertwined with the City and Police Department. The Watch holds meetings open to all citizens within the city of Hazel Park, and they try to get them involved with the program. They also appoint block leaders.

The group meets every three months with residents to go over different things, such as reviewing in-home surveillance cameras, reporting suspicious activity, and protecting everyone’s homes and personal property.” For more information, contact the Hazel Park non-emergency line (248-542-6161).

THE MCSU IS A UNIFORMED CIVILIAN VOLUNTEER GROUP dedicated to keeping Hazel Park’s streets and neighborhoods safe. Members do not possess police powers or authority and, therefore, cannot make arrests or do many other officer-related duties. The special unit has been in existence since the 1960s and has provided non-police assistance to the community during storms, emergencies, power outages, events, carnivals, festivals, fairs, and serious motor vehicle accidents.

“The MCSU consists of a group of volunteers who are our eyes and ears on the streets,” Buchholz said. “They are out and about in the community keeping watch. Sometimes they’ll sit in the Kroger parking lot, at the ice arena, or at another place of business. They’ll report weather hazards, and in the case of a down power line they’ll block off the street.”

MCSU volunteers are a huge asset to the city, according to Buchholz, helping sworn-in staff keep the crime rate down by tending to other important needs of the city which can sometimes arise and require manpower being used elsewhere. “It’s a great thing to have them on short notice,” Buchholz said.

The MCSU works with both the police and certain neighborhood groups to increase visual presence by patrolling in highly visible vehicles, too. This helps residents to feel safe and secure. When patrol cars are spotted in an area, it also minimizes the likelihood for crime.

There is an ongoing need for new members of the MCSU, and those interested in lending a hand are encouraged to apply. Applicants must meet a few minimum standards in addition to having a clean driving record and a clear criminal history. There is a minimum time commitment required.

The Hazel Park police department is also actively seeking qualified, competent candidates for available officer positions. Officers looking to get their start or make a career change should call the office at (248) 542-6161.

THE HAZEL PARK FIRE DEPARTMENT was first established in 1947 and moved into its current location in 1967. “In the ‘60s, the Department was operating in a two-bay, automotive shop type of set up, so it eventually outgrew this,” explained Fire Chief Rich Story, who has been with the Hazel Park Department since 1994.

“We help out with fires, of course, and provide medical and paramedic support,” he said. “Basic-ally, everything you’d expect. We currently have 21 members. We’ve ebb and flowed throughout the years, depending on the money that is coming into the community. When I first got here, we had 17 members, and our high point was 23.”

Story said of the Department’s relationship with City Council and other local public safety and community-based departments, “It’s the best it’s been in the 24 years I’ve called Hazel Park home. This Council is very pro-community. They have everyone’s best interest at heart, and our leadership ensures we all stay in close touch. We also have a good rapport with the police department, the DPW, and with Parks & Rec. There are a lot of great department heads and employees.”

Story graduated from Wayne Memorial High School, and entered Fire Academy and EMT training at Schoolcraft College following graduation. He took a part-time position first, while applying for full-time opportunities, and eventually landed a spot in Hazel Park where he moved up the ranks. “I’ve really enjoyed my career,” Story said. “We go on 32,000 runs every year. We serve a 2.8 square mile community with approximately 17,000 people.”

Hazel Park has agreements in place with neighboring Ferndale and Madison Heights as well. They provide each other with auto-aid as needed. “If there is a fire, we will supply each other with any available manpower and equipment,” Story explained.

“We’re known for doing our job well, if not better than larger departments,” he said. “We take pride in the fact that we’re able to do what we do with how small we are. I would put our members up against the best of them.”

IN ADDITION TO TRADITIONAL SERVICES, the fire department offers CPR training courses. “We also spray down the kids every year during fire prevention week. We visit the elementary schools and give fire safety talks,” Story said. “We help out with the Lions Club and with other community organizations.”

The Department also offers a smoke detector program in which one free detector will be supplied to residents who stop in and show an ID. This will be installed as needed. Blood pressure checks are available at the Recreation Center on specified dates and times, or residents can stop by the department for a free check.

Firefighters also perform periodic hydrant maintenance, and offer a residential Knox Box program, which is a secure key box system that allows them to access a home in the event of a medical or fire emergency. This system is already widely used in many of the area’s commercial and industrial properties and will be tailored to specific residences upon request.

“We try to appease whoever we can. This city pays our salary, and we’re happy to help out wherever we’re needed,” the Chief said. “We’re proud to serve this community.”

THE STATION IS CURRENTLY LOOKING to put together a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a concept first developed following the 9/11 tragedy in 2001.

“We’ve tried it in the past, but unfortunately didn’t receive a lot of interest,” he explained. “But we have a few applicants this time around. We’ll be putting more information on our web site in the coming weeks regarding classes we’re holding, and we’re hoping to get some membership.”

CERT volunteers are members of the community who help out in the event of a major emergency, including severe storms, floods, and airplane crashes. “They’ll do some logistical work, blocking streets and checking homes. The volunteers will also help the fire department out at events, including the Memorial Day parade.” Those interested in CERT or the department’s other programs and services can visit the Hazel Park Fire Department’s page in the list available at http://www.hazelpark.org or call 248.546.4086 for more information.

By Ingrid Sjostrand

ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICERS ARE OFTEN portrayed in movies and cartoons as a bad guy in a van chasing pets with their net. That stereotype is fading, and Hazel Park’s Animal Control Officer Justin Holland proves he is the furthest thing from an evil dog snatcher.

“Our primary goal is get every animal home. But a more realistic goal is for everyone to have their animals properly vaccinated and licensed,” Holland says. “We just want to get animals back home where they belong.”

Holland is the only full-time employee of Animal Control and is assisted by a small group of volunteers – currently only about eight, but they are always in need of more. The shelter holds a maximum eight dogs and 16 cats at one time, so volunteers are needed 365 days a year to feed and walk animals, clean cages and other duties. They are required to staff the office, located at 24211 Couzens Ave, between the hours of 7:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.

“Becoming a volunteer is easy. You drop off an application, which is available online at our web site or on Facebook, we conduct a light back-ground check and, once approved, you begin training and can start to volunteer,” Holland says. “The total turnaround time is about two weeks.”

Their goals might seem lofty when you consider the small staff at Animal Control, but they are making an impact in some surprising ways – like through social media. After reuniting a senior dog and its owner, the resulting Facebook post went viral, and led to a surge in social media followers and an increase in responses to posts about missing pets.

“Our moment was serendipitous; we posted a photo of their reunion on Facebook and – previously we would get close to 1,000 views on posts and photos – all of a sudden this re-homing post got 98,000 views. Then, our run-of-the-mill posts started getting 8,000 views, and now that’s our average,” Holland says. “That reunification is one of my favorite stories. Since then, social media has become a very powerful tool for re-homing, and it also works as a pre-screening tool for adoptees.”

IN THIS YEAR ALONE, HAZEL PARK ANIMAL CONTROL has saved close to 100 percent of animals it finds; placed nearly 40 percent of found animals in new homes and reunited closer to 50 percent of pets to their owners.

Hazel Park Animal Control participates in adoption events throughout the year to increase those numbers, including the Detroit Zoo’s adoption event Meet Your Best Friend at the Detroit Zoo. They also host a low-cost vaccination event in the Spring and Fall with Warren-based All About Animals Rescue to encourage owners to vaccinate their pets for only about $30.

Holland says the success of the shelter is in large part due to the City’s prioritizing of Animal Control in their budget and using their resources to help the Department. Recently, Hazel Park helped obtain a 2017 Ford Transit van for Animal Control’s use. The department also wouldn’t accomplish what it does without the people that live in Hazel Park and their love for animals.

“My favorite thing about Hazel Park is the residents’ willingness to help, and the close community feeling we have in this city,” Holland says.

BY Richard Robinson

HAZEL PARK’S HISTORICAL COMMISSION HAS BEEN BUSY FILLING THE OLD ERICKSON LIBRARY, ON 45 EAST PEARL, WITH ARTIFACTS THAT REFLECT THE HISTORY OF HAZEL PARK. The Commission, created in 1967, was allowed the use of the Erickson Library building through a unique partnership between the City of Hazel Park and the Hazel Park School District, to create the Hazel Park Historical Museum in that space. Donations of chairs and many other items from the Hazel Park District Library make the Museum a truly unique entity in the city, through the cooperative efforts of many.

The Hazel Park Historical Museum has exhibits that are reflective of the past, showing how the City was created, from its early days as a farming community through the years of growth and development. Businesses, schools, and people from Hazel Park are all well-represented. We have new acquisitions from the recently-closed Hazel Park Raceway, and we are planning more themed exhibits soon as time permits. We have scanned copies of yearbooks, from 1935 to almost the present day, available to look at on our computer, as well as some hard copies of yearbooks donated by patrons.

The Museum may be all about the past, but it is rooted in the present as well. Civic meetings have been held at the museum, such the 75th Anniversary City Council meeting, the 8 Mile Boulevard Association, and STEAM programming through the Hazel Park School District. Our Historical Museum is open on the first Sunday of the month, from 12:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M., and on the third Thursday of the month from 6:00 P.M to 8:00 P.M. We also hold our Historical Commission meetings on that same third Thursday. We are also open by appointment as well.

The Hazel Park Historical Commission is always looking to the future as well. History never stops; it is continually being made daily. We are trying to collect artifacts from the past, of course, but always keeping an eye on the future. We are working toward digital collections of online repositories of news, if they are available, as hard copies of news articles are becoming increasingly scarce locally.

Our future needs for the Museum itself entail renovations of the building’s kitchen facilities, bathroom, and floors. We’ve received some donations for bathroom fixtures recently and would welcome help with facility development from the community.

Contacting the Commission is easy. Leave a message at (248) 397-4992, email us at hphistorical@gmail.com, or send a letter to 45 East Pearl, Hazel Park Michigan, 48030. We also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hazelparkhistorical. We’d be happy to hear from you!

By Maggie Boleyn
IF YOU’VE NEVER SEEN AN EPISODE OF TruTV’s reality show, “Hardcore Pawn,” you may not know that pawn shops are a quick way to obtain cash, either by taking a loan against valuable items or by selling those items. Low interest loans are made by the shop, holding the item as security. When the customer repays the loan, the item is redeemed.

American Jewelry and Loan (AJL), featured in “Hardcore Pawn,” opened in 1978. The 50-thousand-square-foot main location in Detroit serves more than 250 customers every hour. AJL has also opened branch locations, launching a Hazel Park shop in June of 2016.

“Hazel Park is a great community of closely-connected people, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the exciting things happening here,” says Les Gold, founder and president of AJL. He is the author of the book, “For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker.”

“Our Hazel Park customers know that they can come to us for the cash they need when they need it,” adds Seth Gold, AJL’s Vice President. “Our core business is writing loans against gold, coins, jewelry, tools, game systems, equipment, and other items of value.”

Essentially, pawnbrokers are lenders. “Pawnshops provide access to quick cash for individuals who use their property as collateral,” continues Seth. “Of all of the alternative lending options available, pawnshops are the only ‘non-recourse choice’; meaning that pawn loans do not impact the borrower’s credit score or ability to borrow in the future,” he explained.

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL PAWNBROKERS ASSOCIATION (NPA), customers come from every part of society, and have an unexpected need for short-term cash. Pawn loans typically range from 30-90 days. Approximately 80 percent of pawn customers repay their loans and redeem their collateral. NPA says about three-quarters of pawn customers take out a pawn shop loan two or more times a year. NPA says, “Pawn loans keep the electricity on, rent paid, and cars running.”

“Most of our customers pay the interest, and return to pick up their merchandise,” Seth Gold said. “Sometimes items are forfeited and become available to sell.” As a result, he says a pawnshop is also “a great place to shop.” He says, “You never know what you’ll find at American Jewelry and Loan.”

There’s no guarantee, but you could find one of the Golds in the store. As third and fourth generation pawnbrokers, the Gold family still manages AJL’s day-to-day operations, working at the stores nearly every day. They do work at the Hazel Park store occasionally, which is located one block north of 8 Mile and John R, at the northeast corner of Muir and John R, in the former home of Joey’s Pawn Shop.

AJL is celebrating their 40th Anniversary by partnering with Junior Achievement of Southeast Michigan. Through the “Gold Bank,” young people can obtain low-interest loans to set up their businesses. “The hardest part of getting a business off the ground is finding start-up capital,”  said Les Gold. “With the Gold Bank, I am pleased that these young entrepreneurs will have one more options to build their companies and their futures.”

By R. Ennis

GETTING A NEW BUSINESS OFF THE GROUND CAN BE CHALLENGING. You may face problems with finding a good location, remodeling that space to fit your needs, and securing the right staff to help you run it. Even after you have surpassed all those hurdles, you still may encounter another obstacle: Coming up with the appropriate signage and graphics for drawing in the public.

Meet J. D. Bayer—who, together with his ATS Signs Partner Steve Corby, can help you spread the word about your products and services. Bayer has been working in the fields of videography, photography, and graphic design for over 15 years. His more recent experiences as a sign designer brought him to the attention of Corby, who hired him to enhance the graphics for Corby’s Anything That Ships (ATS) Store. Impressed with Bayer’s work, Corby suggested that combining their know-how would benefit others.

“I designed the sign atop the building, the window and van logos, and the banner in front of the counter,” Bayer says about the Hazel Park site. During the time he set about those tasks, “Steve and I talked about how our businesses complement each other quite well. We saw how we can offer everything a new business needs to promote itself.”

Corby opened his Anything That Ships Store about a year ago. The expansion of the space to include ATS Signs occurred about two months ago. To let the community know about the broader range of ATS services, they literally took to the Hazel Park streets and
approached local business owners about working with them to find solutions for meeting their advertising goals.

BAYER AND CORBY HAVE ALSO FOUND WAYS to promote their services in-house.

When people come in to ship things,” Bayer says, “we might ask them whether (the packages) are for a business. If they answer ‘yes,’ the conversation moves forward from there.”

The strategies have helped to keep Bayer busy with many projects. His clients include Sneaker Pimp, a local high-end athletic wear company, and Robertson Custom Painting in Madison Heights, specializing in painting residential properties, for whom he created both its business cards and yard signs. Presently, he is making enticing graphics for Universal Jewelry & Loan in Hazel Park.

In the meantime, you can visit www.theatsstore.com for more information on ATS and its full line of printing, packaging, and shipping services:• Digital printing, copying, and finishing services:

• Mail box services
• Packaging, shipping & receiving
• Moving supplies & packaging materials
• Additional products & services – faxing, key cutting, notary, document design (such as invitations), etc.

If signage is what you want, Bayer encourages you to contact him, or stop in to his office at ATS and discuss how he can develop materials well-suited for marketing your business. Even if your advertisement ideas are beyond his immediate scope of expertise and cannot be produced at the shop — LED signs, for example, and other dynamic displays — he says he will do the research and collaborate with other designers to make them happen.

“Our goal is to be the place to go to for your media needs.”

By Maggie Boleyn


“The store has such a long history, and many people feel connected to it,” says Matthew Abramsky, owner and operator. “I love when someone comes in the store and comments: ‘My dad worked here when he was in high school.’ That is why I opted to keep the name “Tony’s” even though no one named Tony has been involved in the business for many decades.”

Tony’s, which opened in the 1930s, is one of the city’s oldest continuously operating businesses. Abramsky managed the store from 2004 to 2010. In November of 2010, he and his wife Sharon bought the business.

“Having the opportunity to own Tony’s is a blessing,” Abramsky says. He considers it “a privilege” to serve Hazel Park, Ferndale, and surrounding communities.

TONY’S AFFILIATE, ACE HARDWARE, is the world’s largest home improvement company. However, each Ace Hardware store is independently owned and operated.

“I think many people believe Ace is a chain but, really, this is our ‘mom and pop’ hardware store,” Abramsky continued. “We buy much of our merchandise from Ace and collaborate with other local Ace owners on advertising,” he explains. “People often comment how they come to Tony’s for the hard things to find. Sharon and I have put a lot of effort into expanding every department in our store. We have had customers drive in from Canada for specialized merchandise!”

Tony’s offers services like key- cutting, paint-tinting, screen repair and glass-cutting. Currently, a wide election of Weber and Traeger grills are featured, along with Yeti products such as indestructible coolers and insulated mugs.

Abramsky recalls some unusual customer requests, such as an older man buying a large pair of metal snips to “trim his toe nails.” A dozen Dremel tools were snapped up by a woman — “for her nail salon.”

“I love owning this business,” Abramsky says. “I want to contribute as much as I can to the city and to my customers.”

Tony’s certainly contributed in 2014, selling flood-related items and cleaning supplies. “I hope we were able to make cleanup and recovery easier,” says Abramsky. He noted Ace “was a tremendous help”, quickly delivering extra supplies. “I remember selling people mops right out of the boxes as we were unpacking the truck.”

“It’s an exciting time to be in Hazel Park,” Abramsky concludes. “I believe in this community and value my loyal and hardworking customer base more than I can say.”

By Mary Meldrum

THE FORTHCOMING CANNABIS MUSEUM, on John R in Hazel Park is the creation of owner, Curtis Goure, who is also the owner of BDT Smoke Shop next door. Goure came up with the idea about six years ago, long before he really knew if the industry was going to be a viable business.

A long-time participant of the cannabis counter-culture, Goure began working at BDT Smoke Shop as a clerk many years ago.

“BDT started as a hippie head shop that sold roach clips, pipes, black light posters and, things of that nature,” Goure explains. After a few transitions and rubbing up against local, state and especially federal laws, BDTs Smoke Shop – and other head shops –have found more secure footing in a culture that is now less “counter.”

Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, and legislators are watching states with legal recreational cannabis, like Colorado and California, with an eagle’s eye. A report from BDS Analytics, a cannabis industry research firm, estimates sales of cannabis to hit $3.7 billion by the end of 2018. Projections demonstrate that number will increase to $5.1 billion in 2019 as more dispensaries come online, making the marijuana industry bigger than beer in California. That’s big.

According to some expert projections, legalization of marijuana nationwide – medical as well as recreational – could conservatively create $132 billion in tax revenue and more than 1 million new jobs across the United States in the next decade.

These are not the numbers of a counter-culture. This is big business, and the growth is more like a wild fire. Legislators and regulators are working hard to keep up with the pressing demands the new industry is forcing on them.

AND IN LIGHT OF THE EXPLOSION OF THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY, all of a sudden, a Cannabis Museum is completely relevant and important.

Goure had formed a relationship with celebrity Tommy Chong, and developed a fascination for old hippie collectibles many years ago. He started collecting tickets, trinkets, memorabilia, old bongs, posters, roach clips and a myriad of other paraphernalia.

Goure thought it was important to have a venue, to educate people about the history of cannabis and hemp. He approached City Manager Ed Klobucher and the Director of Planning and Economic Development, Jeff Campbell, who were both open to the idea – a complete change from previous Hazel Park administrations.

Money is a big factor in the operation of a museum. Gaining a working knowledge of how to operate a museum has been a challenge for Goure, who enlisted the help of the U of M Museum Design group. They did some research, and found key people with museum director experience. They began the tedious tasks associated with categorizing, documenting, displaying and curating the collection, etc.

The Cannabis Museum is hoped one day to be a world-class tourist-attraction. It now has over 16 curatorial and research departments, including publications, films and artifacts. There are over 300 items in the museum’s collection, all carefully documented and illustrated to help the public understand all aspects of cannabis and hemp from a social, cultural, medical, legal, technological, historical and current perspective.

Visitors will be able to learn about the biochemistry of cannabis, chromosomes and genome, taxonomy, and its etymology. In addition, the museum examines the ancient and religious uses of cannabis; historical hemp, medical and recreational use through to present day.

The Cannabis Museum was set to open up in 2018, but Goure reveals that it all depends largely on funding and if Michigan votes to allow recreational cannabis.

BECAUSE OF THE RICH HISTORY OF CANNABIS, Goure would like to ensure that a certain part of the museum will be rotating displays.

“There was a lot of propaganda in the 1930s that demonized cannabis and eventually made it illegal; state-issued stamps, movies like “Reefer Madness,” news articles that demonized cannabis and took it out of circulation for accepted medicinal use,” Goure states. “Throughout the 1930s, ‘40s and beyond, news articles show how attitudes have changed. It was a socially-accepted medicinal item in the early 1900s, then persecuted in the 1930s. Right now, general public opinion of medicinal marijuana is polling in the high 70s, percentage-wise. That is a big change in perception.”

Many patients are looking for non-addicting pain and medicinal relief, asking physicians for scripts for cannabis rather than opioids. Doctors used to be against the use of cannabis, and that is changing. Information about the benefits of cannabis has been there for decades, but has been snuffed and squashed by competing interests.

All of this industry news results in an uptick for Curtis Goure, BDT Smoke Shops, and the Cannabis Museum, and demonstrates how Hazel Park’s forward-thinking will pay off in the near future.

By Maggie Boleyn

THE PHOENIX CAFÉ, FORMERLY LOCATED AT 24198 JOHN R RD., CLOSED ITS DOORS ON DECEMBER 23, 2017. While founder and co-owner Steve Gamburd says it wasn’t so well-known by Hazel Park
residents, it continues to hold a legacy among artists and musicians in the area.

“We created an art and music scene like no other, and it was never a bar! It was one of the few all-ages venues at the time, and now there are none in the area,” he says. “Unfortunately, I would guess that only five percent of the population of Hazel Park knew what we were.”

First opening in 2009, Gamburd, along with partners Hans Barbe and Michael Wiggins, successfully hosted themed art shows, concerts, community fundraisers and other events. The original goal was to create a community that supported sustainable living and held workshops; my goal was to have an art gallery, concert venue and community space,” Gamburd says. “Others that shared this vision made this place what it was.”

When The Phoenix Café hit a lull in late 2012, they decided to spend some time and money renovating. “I wanted a space free of old carpet, with matching furniture, an open stage, a solid cafe counter and a nice gallery. I wanted people to come in and buy art or enjoy a show in a clean space,” Gamburd says. “We completed renovation within six weeks and had our grand re-opening party on February 15th, 2013.”

After re-opening, some roles shifted with Wiggins leaving for other projects and Been Frank, a community organizer and music producer, joining the team. Been acted as sound engineer and helped coordinate events at The Phoenix Café, like Maybash – a popular, four-night concert series over Memorial Day weekend.

“Soon enough, our art events were huge, as well as many of our concerts. We had Tuesday figure drawing, Wednesday Open Jam Club, and Friday and Saturday shows on a regular basis,” Gamburd says. “Artist Steve Czapiewski became a major Phoenix associate with the figure drawing classes and art exhibits.” That success continued with local press attention for their festivals, involvement in the Hazel Park Arts Council and planning of the Hazel Park Art Fair, and a variety of themed art exhibits at The Phoenix – including Hallow Art, Steampunk Art Show, See What Stacey Started Art Show and a Nintendo Art Show. Musicians were thriving there too.

“Many bands got their start at The Phoenix, many musicians formed new bands out of the Phoenix, touring bands made The Phoenix an easy go-to for booking,” Gamburd says. “We were known on a national and regional level for booking in Detroit as a primary D.I.Y. space and resource.”

Despite success, in 2017 Gamburd made the decision to shift his career focus and close The Phoenix Café. “I wanted to be an artist again, create more and gig more with my bands. “We threw a huge, four-night closing party just before Christmas and invited all of the bands that frequented the place over the years.”

While the space has closed, pieces of its legacy remain. Several Hazel Park bars have started picking up where the Café left off: Joebar hosts occasional concerts and Cellarmens books bands and hosts monthly figure-drawing classes. Even its mural (hand-painted by Gamburd) still remains – for now – on the north wall of the barber shop and men’s clothing store that previously filled the space.

“My mural of the phoenix on the north wall of 24918 John R states the motto of Detroit, ‘We hope for better things. It shall rise from the ashes’,” Gamburd says. “As 2018 began, we already have spread our wings and are now both mobile and stationary at new venues!” Gamburd continues to hold figure-drawing classes around Metro Detroit at places like Scribblz in Utica and held a fundraiser in May for the Art Council with Hazel Park BDT. Frank still uses The Phoenix Cafe’s social media for booking concerts at Hamtramck Korner Bar and New Dodge Bar.

Gamburd sees this continued success as an extension of The Phoenix Café, and doesn’t expect it to change anytime soon.

“The Phoenix wasn’t just a space. It was and still is a strong community that will be in our hearts forever!”

HAZEL PARK’S CLASS OF 1966 MADE PLANS TO HAVE THEIR 50TH CLASS reunion on the night of September 10, 2016. That morning, they had an opportunity to visit their old stomping grounds, strolling the hallways of Hazel Park High School. “We had an opportunity to walk the halls,” said ‘66 graduate, Linda McLatcher. “We went into the courtyard, of course, because that area was off-limits when we were students. And we noticed a Viking head. Underneath, there was a plaque that read ‘Class of 1966.’”

The former students were perplexed at first. Many didn’t realize their class had donated the monument many years prior. “We looked at it, and the head was in perfect condition but the column was falling apart,” she said. “We became determined to find out more so we could restore it.”

That night at the reunion, one classmate, Nelson Brandymore, made a plea to the others, asking them to organize an effort to refurbish the Viking head and the column around it. McLatcher explained, “Everyone was excited. We put together a committee and people sent in donations. We deposited these in the bank and eventually had enough to pay for what we wanted to do.” The small committee consisted of Linda and Dan McLatcher, Tom Moberly, Barbara Repke and Sandra Nichols.

Once the funds were gathered, the team solicited the help of a local sculpture business, Detroit Design Center, and owners/brothers, Eric and Israel Nordin, happily came on board. “They were as excited about this as we were,” McLatcher said. “They worked on a new base for it and cleaned up the head. Then, the brothers suggested we move it to the front of the building. We contacted principal [Matthew Dailey] and he was on board.” They were also in touch with School Superintendent, Dr. Amy Kruppe, who was happy to see the structure come to life again.

However, the landscaping around the area needed to be revamped. “We had enough money to do some landscaping,” McLatcher explained. “I wanted to keep this project local, so I went online and found Paradise Garden Landscaping in Hazel Park. Once again, they were so excited about it.” Zaid Hanna donated his labor and furnished the plantings at cost. Additionally, Lou DeCiantis donated his time and material to create the concrete pad at the front entrance.

When everything was complete, the class held a rededication. “There had to have been 50-60 people there,” McLatcher said. “Classmates, administrators, and school board members all came. This was totally a community project.”

Thanks to the community, the head will stand for many years, showcasing the pride of everyone who attends Hazel Park High.