Hazel Park City Guide 2019
2019 Hazel Park City Guide

By Ingrid Sjostrand

FOR ALMOST FOUR YEARS NOW THE FORMER HAZEL PARK RACEWAY has been morphing from an iconic landmark into what could become an iconic economic engine for the city – the Tri-County Commerce Center.

Commercial real estate developer Ashley Capital purchased the land and is currently constructing its second of three buildings on the 120-acre property at 1400 10 Mile Rd, located at the corner of I-75 and I-696.

Building Two, which is 650,000 square feet, is scheduled to be completed in November 2019 and is already attracting potential tenants, according to Construction Project Manager Collin Graw.

“We’ve already started getting quite a few prospects in a building that’s not even done yet. We don’t even have a floor yet,” Graw says. “With the type of interest we are getting right now, we are comfortable moving forward with getting the site pad ready for Building Three, which won’t be done until 2021.”

Building One of the Tri-County Commerce Center was completed in the spring of 2017 and quickly attracted three well-known tenants – Amazon, LG Electronics and Bridgewater Interiors – which occupy four of the spaces in the 575,000 square foot building, leaving only one small space still available.

“In one year, we took a property that had maybe 50 jobs and created 340 permanent jobs in one building and literally hundreds of subsidiary jobs,” Graw says. “From a financial standpoint, it couldn’t be more successful.”

The importance and history of the Raceway to the community was not lost on Ashley Capital though, so they found a way to preserve the southern yellow pine that made up the horse stables.

“When we recognized the value of the wood, we thought ‘This could be a way of honoring this iconic structure and keeping memories alive by keeping the wood in Detroit.’” Graw says. “We immediately started seeking solutions to save the wood.”

Ashley asked two local artisan companies, End Grain Woodworking Company and Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit, if they could repurpose the lumber. Both jumped at the chance and have created custom furniture, and one-of-a-kind pieces available for purchase.

WHILE THE TRI-COUNTY COMMERCE CENTER has received mostly positive feedback and support from the City, Graw says there has been some hesitation from residents that their quiet corner of the city is being disrupted.

“To put it in the most diplomatic terms, the increased traffic has kind of ruffled some feathers some of it rightfully so,” he says. “Some people go through the neighborhoods at high rates of speed. We’ve encouraged the City to enforce the laws and we’ve tried to put in policies to help control that on the property.”

He encourages residents to be open to the change and see the benefits the Tri-County Commerce Center will bring to Hazel Park.

“We encourage the community to embrace it. It’s a big change but it’s a change for the better and will really improve the city,” Graw says. “It’s 120 acres that is going to be paying a lot in taxes and is only going to have a positive residual effect on the community as a whole. Really, take pride in the fact that developers like us and others are choosing areas like Hazel Park to invest and really better the entire region.”

By Sara E. Teller

BETHANY HOLLAND HAS LIVED IN HAZEL PARK FOR THE PAST 14 YEARS and she has had family in the city since 1942. “I can see my grandparents’ former home from my garden,” she said. My uncle Ed Duda spent his entire teaching career at Hazel Park High School and my sister currently teaches in our School District. I’m excited to see long-time residents welcome new neighbors.”

Holland has also been serving on Hazel Park’s City Council since 2017, and this year, she is up for reelection. “To me, serving is more than attending meetings or posting on social media,” she explained. “I lead by example – volunteering my time working and supporting many local community groups.”

She described her vision as one focusing on past, present and future. She knows where the city has been and what it will take to push forward and achieve future goals, and she loves the tight-knit community feel in which everyone is willing to work together. Holland explained, “I love the strong sense of community here. Residents continue to pull together to tackle challenges while fearlessly moving forward.”

Holland knows the area well and keeps very busy coordinating and participating in local events and activities. She oversaw seven low-cost vaccination clinics with Hazel Park’s Animal Control Department, and has offered her time as lead volunteer for Gleaners’ food distribution, as well as the Memorial Day parade and celebration, Hazel Park’s Historical Commission and Creative Arts group, the tax review board and zoning board of appeals, the Neighborhood Watch and Ford Road Watch. Also, you can find her at many Community Engagement Team events, including $1 Skate, Hometown Huddle, the Dr. Seuss and Santa Breakfasts, Project Blue Light, the Trunk & Treat, the Promise Zone and First Responders’ Dinners, Earth Awareness Day, National Night Out, the incoming freshmen class “lock in,” 8MBA, and ICARE. Holland is also a Lions Club member and said her “best volunteering role ever” was helping dozens of Animal Control dogs by fostering them until they could be adopted by forever families.

The Councilwoman is especially fond of her time spent with Hazel Park’s Historical Commission. She said, “I’m currently a member of Hazel Park’s Historical Commission as well as the Recording Secretary. The Commission opened the Historical Museum with about $800 and a lot of sweat equity. Photographs and artifacts from the late 1800s to the present are on display. The museum is located at the Erickson Library, 45 East Pearl, and is open monthly on the first Sunday, 12:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M., and the third Thursday, 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., and by appointment.”

HOLLAND HAS ALSO KEPT BUSY WITH THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. “Recently, I became a founding member of the Historical Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Having a brick-and-mortar museum was a decades-old dream for our Historical Commissioners. The fundraising ability of the Society is an amazing opportunity to grow the museum.”

During her first few months on City Council, Holland witnessed an overhaul of dog ordinances, and is still working on related initiatives. “I am still advocating for ordinance changes to allow microchipping as part of dog licensing, and to get rid of cat licensing while adding language to legalize TNR.” Trap-neuter-return (TNR) is a program in which outdoor, feral cats are humanely trapped, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped, and returned to the location where they were found.

“Micro-chipping and TNR remain a priority,” she said.

Adding greenspace and art around town is also a priority of hers and Holland has been pushing to add pocket parks throughout the area. “I will continue to nudge administration to improve all our pocket parks,” she said, adding, “And, I’ll continue to nurture partnerships that add value and art to our community. One recent example is when local artist Richard Gage’s sculpture HOPE, a tribute to Robert Indiana, was commissioned for installation at the museum.”

Holland is focused on reconfiguring the space where Hazel Park’s iconic Raceway used to sit as well. “Although the Hazel Park Raceway was a huge part of our community, redevelopment brings much needed tax revenue and employment opportunities,” she explained, adding, “I’d like to see the John R. reconfiguration kickstart a top-to-bottom promotion of the businesses we currently have and encourage our entire main commercial corridor to become more attractive and walkable.”

In all of her endeavors, Holland has been focused on advocating on behalf of Hazel Park residents, ensuring their questions and concerns are heard and addressed. “I’m hoping residents will recognize I’ve consistently been asking questions and holding our administration accountable,” she said. “I work very hard to represent residents’ concerns.

By Sara E. Teller

ATTRACTED TO HAZEL PARK’S “SMALL TOWN” FEEL, Andy LeCureaux moved to the area from Royal Oak in 1994. “I love that Hazel Park is walkable,” he said. “And I love the parks.”

LeCureaux joined Hazel Park’s City Council in 2001 and has been serving on the Council ever since. In recent years, he has been actively involved in the revitalization of the city, stating, “I’ve been here since we started it, when Hazel Park was nearing bankruptcy, and I want to be here to see the rest of the development through. Being on City Council means we get a chance to set the tone for the entire area by working with everyone and taking into consideration diverse viewpoints.”

LeCureaux is currently up for reelection and is campaigning alongside several other candidates. He believes he is best suited for the position.

“I hold a Level II at the Elected Officials Academy, which is offered through the Michigan Municipal League. It gives credits for attending classes at conferences and workshops,” he said. “I also have a Public Management Certification from Saginaw Valley State University, which is a program that is offered both online and in-person in Saginaw.”

2019 marks LeCureaux’s third year on the Michigan Municipal League’s Board of Trustees. He explained, “[The League] lobbies on our behalf and educates elected officials, ensuring we’re operating properly, letting us know what can and can’t work and making sure we understand budgets and project work. Of the two candidates currently on City Council, I have the most experience and a proven track record.”

He is the owner/operator of Andrew’s Appliance Installation and believes his entrepreneurial experience has helped him during his tenure. “I am a sole proprietor and entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, I have to listen to my customers,” said LeCureaux. “I repaired appliances in customers’ homes for 19 years and now install high-end kitchen appliances for builders.”

LeCureaux is also Hazel Park’s delegate to the Southeast Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCRRA), and said of his involvement, “I was the Chair of SOCRRA for three years. I was responsible for the change from recycling bins to recycling carts which are larger and increased Hazel Park’s recycling by 50 percent. We put the entire operations up for bid and in 2007 entered contracts that reduced costs 15 percent. I helped settle lawsuits on the Authority’s behalf and am the only elected official to chair the organization.”

As a member of the Hazel Park Youth Assistance Committee since 2001, LeCureaux has helped the area’s youth stay out of the court system. He stated, “The Youth Assistance Committee’s mission is to give families resources. If a student is skipping school, we provide resources to ensure they stay out of the system. There is a Youth Assistance Officer available to counsel families. Our goal is to strengthen the community. We also provide scholarship money that allows students to participate in day camps and other enrichment activities they otherwise can’t afford. This is a coordinated effort between our schools, the city, and the county. Interestingly, the program was founded in Hazel Park by Dr. Wilfred Webb years ago and later became a county-wide initiative.”

LeCureaux co-founded the well-known Hazel Park Arts Council, which will hold its eighth annual Arts Fair this August. He said, “Artists who have been involved in the Fair have relocated to Hazel Park, because of its inexpensive housing, good services,and the safe community. Art is an outlet for students, and we’re promoting the arts for our kids. It’s an important aspect of learning.”

MOST RECENTLY, LECUREAUX HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN BRINGING the marijuana business to Hazel Park as part of the City’s revitalization initiative.

“It’s definitely a revitalization tool that’s long overdue,” he explained. “We have a set of criteria for those looking to come into Hazel Park and are ensuring they are community-oriented. We are asking that they be involved in the Promise Zone or that a portion of their profits goes back into the community. We are also looking to spread the dispensaries out rather than concentrating the business all in one place. We prefer new construction that doesn’t replace existing businesses. We have approved six applicants for licensing, and they are currently awaiting state approval.”

On a personal note, LeCureaux has been recruited to sing in the band StarrCross at Starr Presbyterian Church in Royal Oak and has been involved in the church community for many years, stating, “The Presbyterian Church’s constitution is pro-choice and pro same-sex marriage. We believe in these things and as a libertarian, that’s part of why I’m a member.”

Gardening is also a passion of his, which he said is evident by the flowers that color his lawn, and he helps plant vegetables at a neighbor’s community garden. LeCureaux is also a member of Hazel Park’s Casual Biking Club, which meets at 7:00 P.M. on Wednesdays at Hazel Park High School. Biking is a big part of his exercise routine and gives him an opportunity to get to know residents.

“We’ve biked to Ferndale, Madison Heights, and other surrounding neighborhoods,” he said. “This is my exercise. I often ride my bike around town, and when I collect signatures for petitions, I am usually on my bike. This way, I can always stop and chat.”

By Maggie Boleyn

To Charles Gladue, studying and learning from history is essential to avoid repeating past mistakes. He quotes Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Gladue uses his love of history to inform his service to Hazel Park residents. Among his many roles, he is President of the Hazel Park Historical Society, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

“I was drawn to preserving our city’s history because, first and foremost, I am a history nut,” he said. Gladue adds he was excited to have the opportunity to help establish Hazel Park’s Historical Museum, along with his fellow Commissioners. Gladue, a resident of Hazel Park for 24 years, has logged hundreds of volunteer hours, serving on the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Tax Review Board, and Historical Commission and Museum. He grew up in Oak Park and attended Ferndale High School.

Gladue is imbued with a strong volunteer spirit and carries that to his quest for City Council. “I am running for City Council because I believe we need a more balanced Council,” he said. “I believe serving is more than just attending the one or two meetings a month that are held. You have to get out and volunteer and interact.” In addition to his service to the City through boards and commissions, Gladue chairs the Hazel Park Lions Club Memorial Day weekend.

“This interaction with the community has allowed me to get a good sense of what our residents want to see in our city and more importantly, what they don’t want to see,” Gladue said.

WHEN ASKED WHAT PLANS HE ENVISIONS FOR HAZEL PARK, Gladue responded, “I would like to see Hazel Park transform back to a city with a vibrant, established downtown. We had it at one time, and if we would have not torn it all down from the ‘60s to the ‘90s in favor of strip malls, I firmly believe we would be sitting where Ferndale and Royal Oak are right now.”

One City improvement project in the works is the redesign of Scout Park. “I am excited about the upcoming Scout Park re-do, and would like to see that continue, right down to the smaller parks,” Gladue said. City Manager Edward Klobucher and the Hazel Park Recreation Department recently presented the design plan for the future Scout Park Playground. The plan, created by children (with help from Playgrounds by Leathers), was made possible by the SutarSutaruk-Meyer Foundation. The playground will be built “by and for” the community. Construction is scheduled to begin in June.

Gladue hopes that the city does not start playing favorites to specific individuals or businesses as has happened in the past. If so, the city would lose opportunities and not allow itself to diversify. A more balanced City Council would prevent this. The City Council and City administration need to be responsive to the concerns of its citizens, including more opportunities for the public to voice their input.

Gladue concludes, “I believe our residents need to be informed of the past, so we, as a city, do not repeat our past errors. And, believe me, we made a lot of those.”

By Maggie Boleyn

“DOWNTOWN” IS A UNIQUELY AMERICAN TERM, referring to the central business district of a city. Plans are continuing apace to develop Hazel Park’s downtown. “We have a growing food and nightlife scene,” says Mike McFall, member of the Hazel Park Downtown Development Authority. He is spearheading the new “Downtown Hazel Park initiative.”

McFall says that restaurants and bars like Mabel Gray, Latido at joebar, and Cellarmen’s bring many people into the city who have never been here before. “Once here, though, they discover great longtime Hazel Park staples like House of Shamrocks and Kozy Lounge,” he adds.

“Downtown” Hazel Park may not be exactly where you think it is. McFall explains: “Downtown Hazel Park is our John R business corridor, roughly starting at 10 Mile running south to 8 Mile.” The two-mile stretch is cut in half by I-75 at 9 Mile. “The city is working on creating a more pedestrianfriendly corridor,” McFall said. One goal is to make the corridor “more walkable” as well as adding “protected bike lanes,” McFall says.

A big part of Hazel Park’s Master Plan calls for “attracting millennials and young families.” McFall points to several features that make the city attractive for young people.

“Hazel Park’s hot, yet still affordable housing market is attracting many young people looking to buy their first home,” he said. “Millennials are attracted to thriving eclectic neighborhoods, which is exactly what Hazel Park has to offer. I believe many young people are attracted to the “bohemian” lifestyle Hazel Park offers,” he added.

“The friendly people are Hazel Park’s biggest selling point,” McFall said. “Neighbors look out for one another and business owners are very community oriented, always looking to give back anyway they can.”

CREATING AND RETAINING JOBS AND NEW INVESTMENT within the City in order to expand the City’s tax base is another priority.

“There are always challenges when trying to attract new businesses, but I think a lot of entrepreneurs are taking notice of the positive changes occurring along the John R corridor, including south of 9 Mile,” McFall said. North of 9 Mile, he pointed to the newly-opened Youngbloods, a barbershop and men’s clothing store. McFall says there are also other great developments in the works for both north and south of 9 Mile.

McFall is working on the Downtown Hazel Park website, http://downtownhazelpark.com. “This site will feature businesses and events,” he said. “It will also be an entrepreneur hub for those looking to open a business here in the city.”

Many arts-based businesses have recently opened their doors in the John R Corridor, helping in part to foster the “bohemian” atmosphere McFall spoke of. “For example, Color Ink Studio recently relocated from Berkley to John R south of 9 Mile,” McFall said. “It’s a beautiful building they completely renovated. They offer art classes, workshops, and have gallery space.”

McFall was quick to counter any critics who might fear that Hazel Park is simply becoming another Ferndale. Maintaining the original flavor of the city is important, McFall says.

“I love Ferndale, but I don’t want to be Ferndale, I want to be Hazel Park,” McFall said. “I am a big proponent that ‘Hazel Park is the next Hazel Park.’ I’d like bits and pieces of the things that make Ferndale successful, but our Hazel Park identity is important and we want to remain the friendly little city we are known to be. People are attracted to the quirky hometown vibe that Hazel Park has to offer,” he concludes.

By Andrea Grieg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Sara E. Teller

HAZEL PARK IS NOW TRAVEL CHANNELFAMOUS! The globe-trotting channel recognized city staple Loui’s Pizza as one of the best pizzas in the country on a January 2019 episode of Andrew Zimmern’s The Zimmern List. But this shouldn’t be news to residents, as most have known it as number one since its opening in 1977.

Owner Nykolas Sulkiwskyj says the exposure is a reminder that their formula is working and is creating a whole new crowd of fans.

“It was very surreal to be featured on Andrew Zimmern’s show. The large camera crew was a little overwhelming, but it was overshadowed with the pride we have for our craft.” He says. “The feature has affected our business in many ways. The positive effect of the show is shown when we see many new faces coming in.”

LOUI’S, LOCATED AT 23141 DEQUINDRE RD, is most known for its Detroit-style pizza. Baked in a rectangular pan, the pie has crispy corners and thick, fluffy dough. Sulkiwskyj says there are a few other tricks that make Detroit-style special, including its caramelized cheese crust.

“Our pizza is special due to our ‘old school’ cooking style and our ‘nevercut-corners’ business approach,” he says. “We cook our pizzas via brick oven and we vowed to never switch to conveyer-style ovens.”

Another appealing aspect of Loui’s is the atmosphere. The restaurant gives off a warm, Italian feel and the walls are lined with chianti bottles signed by customers and hung amongst string lights.

“The atmosphere at Loui’s is nearly the same as back when it opened, including the beautiful and unique chianti bottles that our customers sign and we in turn use as décor,” Sulkiwskyj says. “We try

to keep the ‘old school’ vibe and style to pay homage to the generations of customers that have supported us for many years.”

The most popular pizzas at Loui’s are the traditional cheese and the pepperoni. And the antipasto salad with homemade Italian dressing is another musttry. Sulkiwskyj’s has a few favorites of his own too.

“Personally, I either go for the cheese, pepperoni, mushroom and onion pizza, cooked well,” he says. “Or a baked cappelletti; which is meat stuffed noodles with our homemade spaghetti sauce, then topped with cheese and baked in the oven. It is quite delicious!”

And he knows his way around the menu pretty well, having worked at Loui’s since his teen years.

“I started helping my grandfather at the restaurant, while in high school. I would come in on weekends and help with preparation of pizza dough,” he says. “After my grandfather passed away, I was given the reins of the business. I continue to prepare the pizza dough, while picking up managerial duties.”

He doesn’t see Loui’s slowing down anytime soon, especially with the new TV fame, but Sulkiwskyj knows they wouldn’t have the success they do without the City of Hazel Park and the community that’s been eating there for over 40 years.

“My favorite thing about Hazel Park is how close the community is to one another,” he says. “The ‘family-type feel’ everyone shows is fantastic and we wouldn’t change it for the world.”

THE CHRYSLER SCHOOL-TO-WORK PROGRAM was developed in collaboration with the Hazel Park Promise Zone, UAWChrysler and Hazel Park schools. It’s a two-year program offering students an opportunity to attend hands-on classes outside at the UAW training site off of 9 Mile Rd. in Warren. Students who enroll and are offered a spot have an opportunity to get the same exposure as candidates in the full-time Chrysler program. They spend part of their day at Hazel Park High School (HPHS) and part of their day off-campus.

“All sophomores [at HPHS and Hazel Park Alternative High School] are invited to attend a field trip in the spring of each school year to tour the facility and hear what the program is all about,” said Chris Benedetto, Wood Technology Instructor and School to Work Liaison. “Afterwards, students interested in attending are required to fill out an application provided by UAW-Chrysler World Class Manufacturing Academy and must write an essay as to why they want to be part of the program. GPA, attendance, and previous behavior are only minor contributors. Parents have to attend an orientation and have documents signed and notarized.”

Once a completed, valid application is received by the company, UAW-Chrysler’s staff begins scheduling interviews for each interested student, and these are held at the high school. Typically, there are four to six representatives present to conduct the interview sessions. Students selected by the staff to participate are contacted fairly quickly after the completion of the interview process.

“Sometime within the following week or two, UAWChrysler staff will determine which 20 students they will accept into the program for the following school year,” Benedetto explained. “Students are notified via a letter delivered to the school.”

Once selected, both juniors and seniors attend classes at the high school in the morning according to their normal schedule. Then a bus picks them up promptly at 11:25 A.M. to spend the remainder of their day off campus.

AT THE UAW-CHRYSLER SCHOOL, STUDENTS ARE SEPARATED BY GRADE LEVEL and escorted to their respective classrooms. The juniors spend the majority of their day in a traditional classroom setting learning life skills critical to any career, such as health and fitness, problem-solving, conflict resolution, punctuality, public speaking, personal hygiene, resume writing, interviewing skills, effective communication, diversity training, and general etiquette. Academically, they also learn labor history and labor law, civil rights, lean processes, the history of the auto industry, and pre-algebra. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for their senior year, which is more in-depth and includes hands-on opportunities.

Those who make it through this first year and continue in the program during their senior year spend almost equal time in both a classroom and workshop setting and experience each trade for approximately six weeks. Trades include welding, carpentry, machine shop, sheet metal fabrication, pipefitting (plumbing), electrical, electronics, robotics, pneumatics, hydraulics, machine repair, and rigging (crane operation). The major academic components that are also incorporated are math (algebra and trigonometry) and science. Classes conclude at 2:20 P.M., the students board a bus at 2:25 P.M., and they return to HPHS to finish out their day.

The School to Work program has proven to be both challenging and rewarding, and the skills students learn come in handy long after graduation. The credentials they acquire can be used to be placed at UAW-Chrysler or at many other companies. And, since there is currently a shortage of qualified automotive workers with a general knowledge of behind-the-scenes manufacturing processes, Hazel Park’s program offers a unique opportunity for employers to seek out the next generation of those interested in the automotive trade, while preparing students for a future in just about any field.

By Ingrid Sjostrand

FOR 55 YEARS, REP. SANDER LEVIN SERVED THE STATE OF MICHIGAN and, more specifically, the City of Hazel Park. First elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1964, he served as Senate Minority Leader from 1969 to 1970 and went on to get elected to Congress in 1982 where he served as Chair and Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee and on subcommittees on trade, health and income security during his terms. Levin represented the district that included Hazel Park until his retirement in January 2019.

He reflects on that time and specifically the uniqueness of Hazel Park.

“As I think back, there was kind of a special relationship to Hazel Park and it was a community that called for some close collaboration,” he says. “I became most actively involved when I ran for State Senate in 1964 and became very good friends with leadership within Hazel Park, including the Hitchcocks, Thoms, Mastins, Gibsons, McPhersons and Davids. Vicki Levin and Betty Hitchcock together served on the initial Act 54 Oakland Community Mental Health Board”

In fact, his very first campaign office in 1964 was in the city. Although he lived in Berkley for much of his career, Levin immersed himself in the community.

“I was regularly in touch with the small Catholic parish there; I campaigned door-to-door and probably knocked on every door in Hazel Park over the years,” he says. “It was kind of a prototypical middleclass community with all the needs of middle-class communities without the huge resources other communities had. There was always a special relationship and the City always had immensely talented leadership.”

The connections he made with leaders defined many of Levin’s priorities, one of which was education due in large part to his relationship with Wilfred D. Webb (former Superintendent of Hazel Park Schools and Democratic member in the Michigan House of Representatives) who passed away in 2016.

“I was very close to the Board of Education and Wilfred Webb, who was an unusually talented educator,” Levin says. “I heavily relied on him when I was Vice Chairman of the Education Committee in 1965 and ‘66. We reformed education – both general and special in Michigan – in the mid ‘60s; Webb played an instrumental role in our efforts.”

ONE OF THE REASONS LEVIN MADE HAZEL PARK A PRIORITY was that he saw a system that was leaving behind smaller communities and he wanted to ensure they received the same opportunities as the richer areas of the County.

“Education was a major priority since the funding mechanism in the state never played fair to the needs of communities like Hazel Park, because they didn’t have a lot of industry there and they didn’t have the resources that some other communities have,” he says. “Hazel Park embodied the challenge of providing education opportunity for residents, including those that didn’t have a strong economic base. We worked to dramatically improve state aid education and reform special education and Webb was a leader in that effort.”

Several other focuses grew out of the desire to benefit the smaller cities in Oakland County.

“We also worked to build highway construction funds and develop better law enforcement programs to provide assistance to community policing,” Levin says. “I was active in designing the federal program to respond to the needs of smaller communities. The law enforcement programs were created for big communities to apply easily for federal funds and because of the needs of communities like Hazel Park we amended the law to make it better for everyone.

“Hazel Park was always a particularly active part of what I did. When there was a flood in Hazel Park some years ago, the first person that called me was City Manager Ed Klobucher. And the I-75 accident in Hazel Park – again, Klobucher called me instantaneously and we surveyed the damage and wreckage after the accident,” Levin says. “Our office always played a very active role in such events – whether it was floods, highway construction, education, you name it – there was always a special relationship with Hazel Park.”

Since retirement, Levin has taken the position of Distinguished Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. His son, Andy Levin, was elected to continue Sander Levin’s congressional duties as of January 2019 and he represents Michigan’s 9th District which includes Hazel Park.

JUNE 8
Berkley Art Bash
Presented by the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce

JULY 13
Berkley Street Art Fest
Presented by the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce

JULY 18
Couples Night Out & Robina Rhapsody
Presented by the Berkley DDA and the Berkley Junior Women’s Club

AUGUST 2
Art & About 1st Friday
Presented by the Berkley DDA

AUGUST 16
Berkley CruiseFest
Presented by the Berkley CruiseFest Committee

AUGUST 22
Robina Rhapsody & Downtown Sidewalk Sales
Presented by the Berkley Junior Women’s Club and the Berkley DDA

AUGUST 24
Berkley Pub Crawl
Presented by the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce

SEPTEMBER 6-7
County Oakland IrishFest
Presented by County Oakland IrishFest Committee

OCTOBER 17
Friends Night Out
Presented by the Berkley DDA