By Dave Cottrill
THE PEOPLE FROM THE SOUTHWEST FERNDALE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION (SWFNA) HAVE WORKED ON PRESERVING FERNDALE’S PINECREST FOREST SINCE SPRING 2017.
Since then the forest has seen giraffes (sculptures), soil remediation, a proposed development from Pinecrest Holdings LLC., and then the purchase of the 8 Mile section bought by Detroit Axle, followed by the midsection that contains the forest and the meadow, also bought by Axle Holdings.
The story became one of two stories; the stewardship of the land itself and also about Mike Musheinesh, his family and his company Detroit Axle.
The Musheinesh family are recent immigrants to the United States. Mike’s parents and six children were Palestinian refugees living in Syria. “We are not Syrians. We are Palestinian refugees; second class citizens. No country would welcome us except one, which happens to be the greatest one on earth. You are given the free market and liberty. All you have to do is work hard and everything is open to you.”
Detroit Axle, an auto parts manufacturing/rebuild company, started out in a room behind a transmission plant. The family lived on top of a party store in Southwest Detroit. Now the company has sales of $250 million a year. The company hires and trains enthusiastic applicants which includes formerly incarcerated people.
Back to the Land
THANKS TO MIKE’S PURCHASE OF THE PROPERTY, the forest still exists! Mike has also created a wild garden on the south side just inside the 8 Mile fence. His men took shovels, tilled the ground and then scattered the wild flower seeds for an acre sized garden to bring beauty and renew the land.
Mike Musheinesh has been a responsible steward of the land. He has spent half a million dollars in testing, wells and environmental remediation. The land is not as contaminated as was said. Nothing ever migrated to people’s houses. He put wells on the east side of Pinecrest to monitor the possibility of a leak into people’s homes. The tests have shown that the land is getting cleaner and cleaner. The bio-remediation is working. There are a lot of cotton wood trees in the forest which help with the natural remediation. The land clears itself, especially when the land and trees are not disturbed.
During Ferndale’s five-year Master Plan process of 2022, SWFNA discovered that the draft Master Plan had the land zoned as the dreaded “mixed-use” status for his undeveloped forested land. We contacted Mike and the Planning Steering Committee to have the page removed. The City subsequently sent Mike an email to discuss how he wanted his property to be zoned. Mike replied but no further discussion came from the City. Mike hopes that the City of Ferndale will talk to him regarding the zoning and regarding the already-contracted sidewalk along his private property.
AS WE ALL CAN REMEMBER, MARCH 2020 WAS A TIME OF GREAT STRESS and uncertainty when the supply chains shut down. Doctors and nurses could not get masks. Detroit Axle found a supply of two million masks and an air freight company that could take small parcels. Mike’s company packaged the masks and distributed them. Detroit Axle sent masks for free to the State, to hospitals, 10,000 to Ferndale, and 300,000 masks to Homeland Security.
April 2022, Import & Export were Shut Down
IN APRIL 2022 THERE WAS A MISUNDERSTANDING AS TO WHICH GOVERNMENT AGENCY had responsibility for which auto part. Was it DOT, CBP, or NHTSA? “They prohibited our importing and exporting. We had lawyers working for us. Everybody said, “Wait for the federal government to do its due diligence and we will get back to you.” I asked how long will it take and was told about 12 to 14 weeks. We only have four weeks worth of inventory in our facility.”
“There are certain auto parts that need NHTSA certification, such as seat belts and child seats. But none of our products are in that category. I make brakes, ball joints, wheel bearings and axles. But the customs agent didn’t know that. He thought that all auto parts needed to be certified. Going through the channels to get an appeal on this wrong ruling would, in reality, take ten months. Two hundred people here and 100 in Texas would have lost their jobs.”
“In the end, we had no one to turn to. The lawyers ran into road blocks at every turn. Then someone had the brilliant idea to call Senator Gary Peters. “Next thing we knew, they apologized to us for the misunderstanding.” We got a response in three weeks. We are very thankful to Senator Gary Peters and his staff.”
The Musheinesh family has worked hard to build a business, worked with citizens and the City, and donated two million masks. The people of the SWFNA really appreciate his efforts to preserve the land. We are glad that he is our neighbor.
You can read an earlier installment of the ongoing effort to preserve Ferndale’s last remaining forest in the 2021 Ferndale Friends Memorial Edition entitled The Last Natural Space, page 99.