Oak Park City Guide 2022

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

IN RECOGNITION OF THE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES and the immense loss so many have experienced, the City of Oak Park will create a space that allows for reflection on the pandemic and remembrance of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

We recognize each individual has their own story on how COVID-19 impacted them and that each story has affected our community. Some of the greatest impacts have been felt by those who lost a loved one to COVID-19. To ensure victims of the virus are properly remembered, the City will be installing a thoughtful and permanent memorial. We invite Oak Park residents to share their input on what an appropriate COVID-19 Memorial may be, where it should be installed and, most importantly, to provide information on Oak Park residents who fell victim to the virus. The City will, on an ongoing basis take the information of those lost to COVID-19 to ensure their memory is preserved.

Information can be provided by utilizing the QR code on this page (photo); and pictures of Oak Park residents who died from COVID-19 can be sent to Communications Director Courtney Flynn at cflynn@oakparkmi.gov. We thank you for your valued input and are humbled at the opportunity to provide a space for our community to honor and remember their loved ones.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

THE CITY OF OAK PARK HAS FIVE MOGO STATIONS and the numbers show that our community knows how to ride!

In 2020, Oak Park had the highest usage of any community in the surrounding area, with 1,667 trips taken. We hope our residents continue to utilize this service offered through the City’s partnership with MoGo.

For those looking to get on a MoGo bike and ride, the Oak Park stations are located at:

• West 11 Mile Rd. & Tyler St.

• Lincoln St. & Greenfield Rd.

• Coolidge Hwy. & Lincoln St.

• Oak Park Blvd. & Parklawn St.

• West Nine Mile Rd. & Manistee St.

To stay up-to-date on MoGo News, visit their website at mogodetroit.org or follow them on social media (@MoGoDetroit).

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

THE Oak Park Water Tower Social District, on 11 Mile Rd., opened to the public in August and continues to offer opportunities for patrons to enjoy local businesses, both inside and out. The Social District welcomes those ages 21 and above to purchase from participating businesses to-go alcoholic beverages and enjoy them in the Commons Area.


• Monday through Saturday: Noon-10:00 P.M.

• Sunday: Noon-6:00 P.M.

• Closed on holidays recognized by the City of Oak Park


• Oak Park Social

• Dog & Pony Show Brewing

• Unexpected Craft Brewing Company

• Berkley Coffee

Social districts were created through a state initiative in 2020 with the hopes of spurring social and economic involvement in local communities. As the Water Tower Social District in Oak Park continues to experience its rebirth, this initiative will surely only help the businesses in that corridor grow while also helping to foster a deeper sense of community.

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White


OVER THE LAST YEAR THE CITY OF OAK PARK HAS WELCOMED several new faces to the leadership team, including Human Resources & Labor Relations Director Megan Burke, Library Director Kimberly Schaaf & Communications and Public Information Director Courtney Flynn. These staffing updates will continue to ensure Oak Park remains in line with its commitment to excellence, innovation and high-quality service.

“I am proud of the team we have in Oak Park, as we all work to meet the needs of Oak Park residents and continuously look for ways to improve how we deliver our services,” said City Manager Erik Tungate. “The additions of Directors Burke, Schaaf and Flynn to our team have solidified our culture of excellence in this City and make me confident we are blazing a bright trail for the future.”


MEGAN “MEG” BURKE IS AN EXPERIENCED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) PROFESSIONAL, who came to the City of Oak Park with knowledge from both the private and public sectors.

She attended Wayne State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and in 2020 she completed a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, with a concentration in Human Resources. She began working in the City of Oak Park in August 2020.

Burke’s philosophy on HR is that empathy, humility and relationships are the foundation of Human Resources, and that focusing on these principles creates a productive, safe, and comfortable working-environment. Some of her favorite aspects of the job include labor relations, compliance review, contract/proposal writing, and benefit administration. She holds various certifications, including:

• Certified Labor Relations Leader (CLRL): Michigan State University.

• Certified Professional in Public Sector Human Resources (IPMA-CP): International Public Management Association of Human Resources.

• Yellow Belt in Lean Six Sigma: Six Sigma Global Institute.

• Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Adult & Youth: National Behavioral Council.

Burke serves on the Board of Directors for both Macomb County Community Mental Health (MCCMH) and the Michigan Public Employer Labor Relations Association (MPELRA) and is an active member of Woodside Bible Church in Troy.

She lives with her husband, Tim, an IBEW Local 58 electrician, in Chesterfield Township. She enjoys golfing, traveling, cooking, and spending quality time with family and friends.


KIMBERLY SCHAAF JOINED THE OAK PARK TEAM IN THE SPRING OF 2021, with a wealth of knowledge related to libraries and program. Prior to taking on the Director of Library role at the Oak Park Library, Schaaf served as the Head of Adult Services at Springfield Township Library.

Overall, she has 14 years of library experience. Schaaf is also professionally involved in the Library Network Committees Group and serves current chair of the Shared System Users Group.

In addition to her library experience, Schaaf also has several years of corporate business management experience and holds degrees and certifications in the following:

• Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in secondary education, University of Michigan.

• Master of Library Science: Wayne State University.

• Professional Level One Librarian Certificate: The Library of Michigan.

• Certificate in Library Community Assessment.

Schaaf is married with two teenage boys. In her free time she enjoys gardening, hiking, doing mixed media art projects and spending time with family.


COURTNEY FLYNN JOINS THE CITY OF OAK PARK’S MANAGEMENT TEAM as the Director of Communications. She formerly served as Public Relations Manager for the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

She is well-versed in government communications with an emphasis on community engagement and programming, crisis communications, media relations and policy analysis. Prior to serving in the public sector, Courtney served as a local government and education journalist.

She earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Print Journalism from Bowling Green State University. In addition to her extensive communications experience, Courtney woks with the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies analyzing socioeconomic data and policies.

In her free time, Flynn enjoys walking her dog, road trips centered around hiking, live music and finding the best places to eat.

By Sara E. Teller

SHELL CLEANERS, ON COOLIDGE HIGHWAY, OPENED ITS DOORS ON MARCH 13, 1982. Narendra Patel, originally from India, had immigrated to the United States already with a college degree, but without speaking a word of English.

“My sister lived in Oak Park,” said Patel, which is why he chose to settle in the area. “I was looking for something to do here and the people were very nice.”

A laundromat seemed like a great option. Patel would be able to interact with many Oak Park residents and could learn English along the way. He also began to night school in Southfield after work. It wasn’t the easiest start, but he found his way, learning the language of his customers and eventually feeling at home.

“I was able to clean clothes for many customers and serve the city,” he said, which gave him great satisfaction.

Shell Cleaners served the city for 40 years and became an institution largely because Patel was known for doing great work at a reasonable price, which allowed his business to boom. He began to get to know many of his customers on a first-name basis and they would return to the the cleaners time-and-again for a quality job.

Patel was not only known for taking care of his customers’ clothing but serving them “always with a kind smile.” She added that he was such an integral part of the city that former U.S. Representative “Sander Levin wrote a letter to help bring [Patel’s] wife from India north of Bombay.” Eventually, the two were able to settle in the area together.

Patel enjoyed serving the people of Oak Park as much as they loved the work he did. They became more than just clients to him over the years. “They weren’t just customers, they were extended family to me,” he said.

YET NOW, AFTER ALL OF THOSE YEARS IN BUSINESS, Shell Cleaners has officially closed its doors. The pandemic has brought about many unforeseen changes and has hit small businesses especially hard. Unfortunately, small cleaners like Shell have been unable to obtain the same quality soap customers have come to expect and the prices of essentials such as poly bags and hangers have tripled. Because many professionals are working from home, they’ve transitioned from wearing business suits that need to be dry cleaned to more casual clothes.

All of these things affected Patel’s business. He tried to keep Shell afloat for as long as possible but there came a point that he had to make a very difficult decision. It was time to sell the building and close Shell’s doors.

“The Coronavirus has affected the whole country,” Patel said. “But it has very been hard on small businesses and their supply chains. I’m retired now but I wasn’t ready to.”

He said, “I miss the city. The city was my family.” He added he especially misses former and current Mayors Jerry Naftaly and Marian McClellan, respectively.

When asked what the future holds, Patel said he would like to eventually do something else but hasn’t decided what that is yet. Because of the pandemic and the continued difficulties small businesses face, “Right now, I’m just trying to take it easy,” he replied. Patel added he is no longer in Oak Park but may like to return someday.

Even though Shell has closed its doors, it will never be forgotten by all of the customers served over the four decades it was in business. Flynn said, “We are delighted he settled in Oak Park and wish him joy in his retirement.”

By Kerry Lark
Photos ©2021 by David McNair

A Community-Based Business Serving Oak Park for Over 30 Years

IT WAS A TYPICALLY GREY AND CHILLY NOVEMBER MORNING as I pulled into a parking lot on 9 Mile in Oak Park. I was coming to interview Dawn and Sam Barash; the owners of Wirelessunow, Inc, a local cell phone provider.

Dawn welcomed me with a sincere smile, a bottle of water and a plate of tasty food. Talk about a great first impression! She led me to their office where I met her husband Sam. I sat down and listened as they proudly shared their personal and business journey here in America.

Sam Barash emigrated here from Iraq in 1974 at 14-years-old with little more than the clothes on his back. He is a typical, hard-working immigrant, the type who made this country great. Sam believes that by combining hard work and determination anyone can succeed in America. He enrolled at Oak Park High School, determined to participate and remain active in his new community.

IN 1993, THIS DETERMINATION BECAME PARAMOUNT when they decided to become entrepreneurs selling pagers and beepers. Remember pagers and beepers? If you’re under 25, don’t bother answering that question! By 1995 there were over 60 million pagers in use worldwide.

However, they realized that cell phones would soon grow to replace pagers and beepers, so they quickly pivoted and expanded, also offering service, accessories and repair. Their son and daughter came on board to lend a helping hand managing the growing family business. They were so successful that by 2006 they were a Metro PCS Master Dealer.

In 2013, T Mobile bought Metro PCS, so they are now an authorized dealer for Metro by T Mobile. They are proud of the fact that as an essential business they remained open during the Covid pandemic, providing important service while protecting their customers.

DAWN AND SAM OFFER EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE on a wide range of products and services. Over the years they’ve seen it all, and able to help you when other companies have turned you away. Products include all types of smart devices and accessories, data transfer from old devices to new devices, educating customers on avoiding cyber attacks and scams, and assisting clients navigating the myriad of features available on new products.

Sam and Dawn believe strongly that their personal values carry over to their company, including:

• 100 percent honest customer service.

• Family-oriented.

• Dedicated to the Oak Park community.

• Always working hard for you!

The old saying that, “the only constant in life is change” has never been truer, especially in the rapidly-evolving technology and communications industry. So, if you are looking for great local wireless company, stop by and see Dawn and Sam at Wirelessunow. They will treat you like family and they have the experience and expertise to help you. Who knows, you may even get a plate of tasty food!

Wirelessunow Inc., 8980 West 9 Mile Rd, Oak Park MI 48237

(248) 582-2222 | wirelessunow@gmail.com

By Ryan R. Ennis

A Family-Friendly Business

NO MATTER HOW HANDY PROPERTY OWNERS MAY BE, plumbing problems will arise that require the skills of a professional.

Ready to tackle the challenges is Plumbing Techs of Michigan, a company owned and run by Scott Baxter. His Oak Park shop, located at 12700 Capital Street, services most of the Tri-County area. More recently, he has expanded his enterprise with the opening of a Wixom branch.

At Plumbing Techs, Baxter oversees daily operations, provides service estimates, and coordinates his employees’ scheduling and training. On lighter days, his staff begin their mornings driving to locations where water heaters, sump pumps, and garbage disposals need to be installed. On other occasions, their destinations put their high-level of expertise to use as they set about laying drains, water pipes, and gas lines for new construction and remodeling projects.

Baxter takes pride in being a second-generation tradesman. Following in his father’s footsteps, he began as a plumber’s apprentice until he received his journeyman license in 1982; two years later, he received his master plumber license. Following in Baxter’s footsteps, his son Shawn joined him in the trade four years ago and received his journeyman license last year.

IN 1996, BAXTER STARTED HIS COMPANY with only a used truck and his personal tools, determined to build a name for himself as a plumber with customer satisfaction as his top priority. Although his days are now kept busy managing staff and inventory, he remains committed to his original vision. A Madison Heights customer, John H., offers this testimony about Plumbing Techs: “You could not get a better end result for the money spent. I would recommend this company to anyone requiring major or minor repairs.”

As part of maintaining customer satisfaction, Baxter and his staff adhere to certain precautionary measures. During the onboarding process, Plumbing Techs employees participate in safety and MIOSHA (Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training. Whether arriving at a site to give an estimate or provide a service, they wear masks, booties, and gloves to protect themselves, their customers, and their customers’ properties.

Additional protective steps include the laying of tarps and other coverings to prevent damage to floors, appliances, and furniture. When the jobs involve excavation, Baxter contacts Miss Dig 811, a free utility safety notification service, whose markings of underground utility lines help Baxter and his plumber avoid potential dangers.

During a recent project, Baxter utilized safety checklists as his plumbers replaced a water piping system for a 16-unit condominium building dating back to the ’60s. The complicated task involved swapping out old large diameter mainline piping for a new supply system inside the property’s wall cavities.

What made the undertaking even more tricky was that the residents continued occupying their homes while the work was being done. Although they had to deal with some noise and inconvenience under the renovation, they couldn’t have been happier about the results: “The owners had not seen water pressure this good in many years,” says Baxter.

WHILE SOME MAJOR PLUMBING PROBLEMS SPRING UP UNEXPECTEDLY, others can be prevented with annual maintenance. To schedule the flushing of your hot water tank, the cleaning of your sewer lines, or other yearly procedures, call Plumbing Techs at 248-548-7488 or visit plumbingtechs.com. The website contains more information about the company’s extensive menu of services, including a listing of frequently asked questions for regular and prospective clients to peruse.

“We are a proud company,” says Baxter. “We give our customers fair pricing, timely scheduling, excellent workmanship, and a two-year guarantee on labor.”


By Ryan R. Ennis
Photos ©2021 by David McNair

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME: ON A CHILLY NIGHT, HURRYING TO A DESTINATION, a driver hits an unexpected pothole on a poorly lit road. Suddenly, a loud pop is heard, followed by the hissing of a deflating tire. Within moments, a warning light appears on the dashboard. The distressed driver scowls and abruptly pulls off onto the shoulder.

In Metro Detroit, a man who can turn a distraught motorist’s grimace into a smile is Mohamed Majhed, owner of BMI Road Service. His dispatchers are on call 24-hours and seven-days per-week “to get you off the road and home safely,” he assures his customers. Some of BMI’s services include tire changes, air delivery, jump starts, assistance with lock outs, as well as local and out-of-state-towing. Working with AAA and other insurance companies, BMI offers unlimited towing coverage.

MAJHED HAS MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD. Unsure about which path to pursue in college, he took a job at a Southfield auto repair and gas station 11 years ago because he has “always loved automobiles.” At the Southfield shop, he ran the gas station and helped with towing, believing he was “making a difference in people’s lives by providing an ambulance for cars.”

After five years at the station, he felt confident enough to strike out by himself, and found a suitable location for his own business at 13380 Capital Street in Oak Park.

In the beginning, it was just Majhed responding to stranded motorists’ calls with his own van. After a year, he expanded by offering towing services. Before long, he amassed a fleet of nine tow trucks and a staff of 12 employees.

In doing so, his job responsibilities have increased. In addition to handling daily operations at the shop, he heads out on the road when duty calls. Despite the long hours, he is “happy to be an important helper in the community.”

HIS ADVICE TO MOTORISTS, to keep them from becoming stranded, is to “not use their cell phones while driving.” He estimates that 70 percent of the problems drivers incur while operating their vehicles are from cell phone use. “When drivers are on their phones,” he says, “they (often) don’t pay attention to the gas level is in their tank, the curves ahead in the road, and naturally the potholes and debris in their paths that could damage their tires and undercarriage.”

To avoid potential accidents, some insurance agents recommend storing your phone in the glove box or another compartment, out of sight, when you are behind the wheel.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Majhed and his employees follow strict safety protocols. Wearing masks, he and his staff strive to keep a safe degree of distance between them and their patrons during their inter-actions. All BMI Road Service employees also frequently sanitize their hands and do not enter other vehicles unless necessary. Additional guidelines are that only one tower is assigned to a specific truck, and that the truck’s interior is frequently disinfected throughout the worker’s shift.

Like other towing companies, BMI Road Service has adopted another procedure to protect its staff and you: If your vehicle must be towed, you will not be able to ride in the cab with the driver. You will need to make your own arrangements to be taken home or to the repair shop.

“All my employees are well-trusted family members,” says Majhed. “When they arrive on the scene to assist you, expect to be treated with a high level of care and respect.”

To contact BMI Road Service, call 313-460-3222. Cash, check, and all major credit cards are accepted.

By Jenn Goeddeke

Creating the Essential Learning Curve

MEETING TORI WEBSTER IS THE DEFINITIVE BREATH OF FRESH AIR! She is the founder and Director of Best Friends Early Childhood Education Center, located in Oak Park (8430 W. 9 Mile). Webster’s strong, positive attitude and her enthusiasm and dedication become quite apparent after conversing.

She is achieving her goals on a daily basis: Keeping high standards in teaching young children, and nurturing them too. Webster maintains a five-star quality rating through the Michigan Department of Education, the first daycare in Oakland County to achieve this rating. She consistently sticks to the ‘quality over quantity’ approach and takes pride in the small group settings. Ages throughout the several classrooms span from infants to preschool children.

Webster attended school to attain a degree in early childhood education. She then purchased a home specifically to start a daycare; to build on the expanding curriculum and to gain all necessary behind-the-scenes expertise over a 13-year timeframe. Her ultimate goal was to start a daycare in a commercial building, which has been keeping her busy now at the Oak Park location since 2017.

The main reward, Webster explained, is to see each successful stage of development for a child as they progress in the program. The classrooms build on each other, with the end result being a thorough preparation for kindergarten.

One example of a teaching focus is building literacy through phonemic awareness. This basically means introducing the alphabet in relation to the sound of each letter, not simply by its name. This leads to blending the sounds, creating word recognition.

Lesson plans are not set in stone either. Webster clarified that there might be a need to pivot from anything previously planned-out. Staff listen out for cues, then build on what the children are focusing on. For example, a strong interest in the cooking play area could result in an early math-and-fractions class using fruit!

ALL TEACHERS AT BEST FRIENDS CHILD CARE maintain detailed, daily developmental assessments which then get compiled into reports. Educational software helps in this process. Any developmental delays can be noted in real time, and addressed quickly. One way Webster can help parents is to make recommendations for specialists, so that the child is not held back in his or her education.

Children can truly make some lasting social bonds. They track each other through the years. Some of these bonds can last a lifetime. Webster’s tagline for the daycare is: “Building early childhood foundations that last a lifetime.” She mentioned how extremely rewarding it is to receive many thank you’s over the years from parents for doing a good job or resolving a particular situation.

Webster pointed out that staffing has been the most challenging aspect of running the daycare. She has set high standards for the teachers: All have degrees in childhood development or are progressing towards their teaching qualifications. Webster frequently assists staff in furthering their educational goals, at various different levels. “I strive to keep them with me, but also want them to be prepped for life.” she added with a smile.

The longevity of staff employment and continuing a family-type environment are important factors. With the hiring process, and all other major decisions, Webster considers these to be a group decision among the daycare staff: “It’s our decision, not my decision!” Trust is a huge aspect, so adding on can be difficult.

The Covid19 pandemic has certainly affected the hiring process, but Webster keeps forging ahead in a determined manner. Best Friends has managed the situation by putting safety first, and following strict guidelines. All of the classrooms are self-contained with their own furnace and A/C unit, plus teachers maintain a single classroom.

Additionally, there is an air purification system in place for each room, including high-quality furnace filters. Therefore, if someone becomes sick, that classroom shuts down and not the whole facility. Webster emphasized that the children have adjusted well to wearing masks and the other Covid 19 safety protocol. They are, of course, already seeing masks in their everyday lives and they are typically thriving and happy. Occasionally, staff have to pull down their mask to show a smile or articulate something. But overall, the children have learned to accurately read inflection and body language cues.

WEBSTER SAID SHE WOULD LIKE TO EXPAND AT SOME POINT. Until then, she is focused on her current location and providing the structure children need to prepare for primary school. For important resources to those looking for a daycare, Webster mentioned two key web sites: www.GreatStartToQuality.org and www.michigan.gov/LARA (an acronym for ‘Licensing And Regulatory Affairs’). Both of these sites allow parents to make an “apples-to-apples” comparison with daycares in the area. They provide key details on hugely important matters such as safety, licensing, staff and administration management along with expert personal observations.

Finally, Webster wanted us to give a special ‘shout out’ to all her devoted staff, especially to Kelly Westwood (employed for nine years) and Lauren Reagan (employed for three years). They have all been troopers through the pandemic and loyal, supportive employees through the various ups-and-downs!

Best Friends Early Childhood Education Center is located at: 8430 W.9 Mile, Oak Park, MI 48237.
They can be reached at: 248.629.7065.
Daycare hours: Mon thru Fri, 7:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M.
Closed on weekends.
Visit their web site at: www.bestfriendsearlychildhood.com

By Mary Meldrum
Photos ©2021 by David McNair

DEFINITELY DIFFERENT HAS BEEN SERVING QUALITY FASHION FOR 28 YEARS. Imani Daniels took over the store after her mom passed in December of 2017. The interesting clothing and accessories they carry give her store a unique flavor. It’s the type of clothing you aren’t likely to find at any of the big box stores or even some of the smaller boutiques.

“I try to find unique and interesting pieces. A lot of it is custom, one-of-a-kind,” Imani explains.

She enjoys a lot of return customers looking for clothes for certain events like concerts, weddings, and showers. Right now, she feels the interest is shifting to a dressier style. People are starting to go out again and looking for more formal wear and unique pieces.

With regard to her inventory, much of it is custom-made and unique. Other items are available in a wide variety of sizes. To acquire inventory, they go to California, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, New York, and trade shows. The Magic Show trade show is an especially valuable event to see what is coming out for the next season and get some fill-in pieces for the current season. Over 1,000 manufacturers attend the trade shows. Often she takes an employee or family member on the trips.

WHEN ASKED WHAT IS HER BIGGEST STANDOUT QUALITY at the Definitely Different store, Imani conveys, “I am big on customer service and customer appreciation. The customer always comes first. A lot of my customers want something that nobody else will have. I try to find those pieces for them.”

As you walk into her shop, you will be greeted by a sales associate. Some people want specific attention and want you to show them things. Some want to just browse.

“We have a variety of different clothing, dresses, jackets, funky hats, and purses. We have gloves and scarves. We carry all sizes, small to 3X. We can also do alterations for customers. Looking for things that they have seen online and they might want to have something made. We can offer to make it as well. I have a couple of seamstresses who make pieces, stylish clothing. I have two other tailors who make more clean-cut pieces.”

New customers will appreciate the vibe and layout of the store and the wall emblazoned, “Dare to be Different.”

Imani grew up in Oak Park, where her store is located. She went to school at Hazel Park High School and Detroit Public Schools. She attended Central Michigan University and earned a bachelors in neuroscience and a masters in health administration. She is now attending the University of Detroit Mercy and is in the process of achieving a second bachelors degree in nursing.

Imani jumped in to keep the business running following the death of her mother but still wants to become a nurse. “I need to get hands-on experience, but I do know I want to combine entrepreneurship with nursing and merge the two together.”

After losing approximately 100 pounds, she believes that you can do anything that is in your mindset. “Anything is possible if you work toward your goals.”

Definitely Different
22011 Coolidge Hwy, Oak Park, MI 48237 | (248) 584-2299