West Nine Mile Streetscape Project Approved

West Nine Mile Streetscape Project Approved

(C. Proxmire, Oct. 24, 2012)

With planning in the works for over a decade, the City is ready to begin moving forward with giving W 9 Mile a facelift.  With street and sewer replacements scheduled already, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and City staff  have working to find grants that would allow them to piggy back off the construction project and make the area look better as well.

The project, approved Monday night, will provide several big changes from Planavon to Pinecrest, including:

~Reducing the lanes from 5 to 3 through the 9 Mile/Pinecrest intersection

~Creating on-street parking on the south side of the street

~Adding a crosswalk near CVS

~New lighting fixtures with less intrusive bases

~Parking lot screening for vacant lots

~Nine new benches

~Trash and Recycling combo receptacles

~60 new trees and perennial planters

~Bike Racks

Cristina Sheppard-Decius presented the project to council, saying that the current cityscape is “dangerous for pedestrians, lackluster for consumers and it doesn’t provide confidence for coming and shopping, and really spending time in that area.  It is a disconnect for the rest of our Downtown Area and our merchants in the area.”

She said that with five lanes that don’t line up through the 9 Mile and Pinecrest intersection, the street needs a “road diet.”  She also pointed out lower vacancy rates in the area.

The plan addresses those concerns at the same time other roadwork would have been happening regardless.  The construction will take place from April 2013 through September, and alternate routes will be established.  Most of the time, Sheppard-Decius said, 9 Mile will be down to two lanes.  Another benefit of the construction is that a 12 in water main will be installed to replace the existing 6 inch.

Residents on Kenton  may also see a big change.  The plan includes the possibility of blocking off the street so that customers leaving Dairy Queen will only be able to go back to 9 Mile.  “We met with the police, fire and TIA (Traffic Improvement Association) to come up with a plan,” she said.  “Grass paves will support fire trucks if necessary.”  She said there is also the possibility for a small park and picnic tables.”  Former Mayor and Councilperson Kate Baker, who lives near that intersection, echoed the sentiment that residents would like to see that closed.

Another big question was what would happen at Livernois.  A traffic study presented at Council last December brought up the possibility of creating a roundabout there, and questions over what could be done with the largely un-used portion of the Ferndale Foods parking lot at that corner.  This plan does not include that, but it puts more attention towards Pinecrest with the expectation that Livernois will be a separate, future project.

Everyone on Council supported the plan, which has been a collaborative effort with the DDA, City Council, the Planning Commission, the DPW (Department of Public Works) and other City Staff.  Grant money has been found which helps pay for much of the roadway improvements and some of the streetscape.

The biggest debate Monday night was over how to pay for the work.  The total cost for the project is $1,127,094.  The Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Federal Government is $590,134, and the DDA put in $63,517 for engineering.  The remaining $473,443 is what caused some disagreement on Council.

Ultimately the remaining funds were approved to come 50% from the Major Streets Fund and 50% from the City’s General Fund.

Councilperson Scott Galloway was the only “no” vote, giving the explanation “I enthusiastically support the project.  I am adamantly opposed to the funding.”

Galloway did not want to take money from the City’s General Fund, but instead wanted it to come from TIF (Tax Increment Financing) money collected for the DDA.  TIF money is collected from commercial property owners to be used in improving and promoting Downtown.  Councilpersons Melanie Piana, Mike Lennon, and Dan Martin, along with Mayor Dave Coulter, voted in favor of the project with the City funding.

The DDA will host an open house on Nov. 7, 2012 at 925 W. 9 Mile, formerly Great Wall, from 6-8pm.  There residents and business owners can share their thoughts on the plans, learn about alternative routes, have questions answered.

The DDA will also have a construction ticker on their website, www.downtownferndale.com to let people know how progress on the construction is going.

To watch the DDA Presentation and City Council discussion, watch the Oct. 22, 2012 City Council meeting on the City of Ferndale website at http://ferndale-mi.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=346.

To flip through the presentation go to http://prezi.com/v9msdkocxlyo/how-the-west-was-one-w9-phase-iv-streetscape-improvement-project/.  Or view below (from the above link):

 

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