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The Future of Ferndale Discussed at Master Plan Open House

essentialTOPtempThe Future of Ferndale RB_04Discussed at Master Plan Open House

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 11, 2016)

Ferndale, MI – The city of Ferndale put all their ideas on the table, literally, for the Master Plan Open House on Feb. 6.

The event, held at the Rust Belt Market, welcomed residents and visitors to share their ideas about important city decisions and aspects of community-building. The Master Plan is a guiding document that cities and townships must produce every five years that outlines spending priorities, goals, and vision. It also looks at where the City is now in terms of demographics, land use, strengths and weaknesses etc. It provides legal justification for uses of public land, helps guide decisions and ordinances, and helps the community identify and stay ahead of trends.

ChamberAd_02Hamilton Anderson has been working with the city to get the most out of the Master Planning process. Using a variety of tools like online engagement and market analysis, they have come up with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

For strengths they have deemed Ferndale to be walkable, innovative, embracing of both new and traditional ideas, diverse, friendly, community-oriented, having good City services , and having a small town feel in a big metro area.

Some weaknesses include lack of wheelchair accessibility, lack of a pool, traffic control issues, shortage of retail with evening issues, response to sewer/flooding issues and some consider it to be not diverse.

Opportunities include development along Hilton and in the industrial areas, and the growing promise of public transit.btl wedding

And threats are that the 8 Mile overpass separates Ferndale from Detroit and is possibly unsafe, the lack of effective parking solutions, and road blocks to change in parking, housing or changing the workforce.

According to the US Census, Ferndale is 85% white with 25% of the population aged 25-34. 17% of the population lives below the poverty line, and the average income is $50,600 per year. Housing is 40% renter occupied.

There is very little overlap between people who live in Ferndale and people who work in Ferndale. There are 6,508 people employed in Ferndale who do not live in the City. There are 8,419 people who live in Ferndale but work elsewhere. Only 7,154 (9%) of Ferndale jobs are held by Ferndale residents.

A market analysis shows that there is the capacity for increasing the number of housing units and a need for more office space and jobs. Other potential areas of change include parking, diversifying housing stock, more affordable housing for workers and for seniors, the evolution of transit options, building of neighborhood identities within the city (with groups like The Dales, Vester Street Neighbors, and Woodland as examples), and stronger relationships with neighboring communities.

baby modern natural 03Using this data as a basis, participants were invited to check out various tables and give their input on topics like neighborhood identity, parks, and parking.

Speaking to Chris Riggert of Hamilton Anderson, longtime resident Mary Schusterbauer suggested that Citizens for Fair Ferndale might be able to help with the neighborhood-identity building. CFF brings the community together each year for the Good Neighbor Awards, along with other activities like impartial forums on election issues, and encouraging a civility pledge.

Merideth Begin grew up in Clinton Township and spent 11 years in Washington DC before choosing Ferndale as her permanent home. “I wanted a consciously walking community,” she said. She bought her home two years ago and was surprised to learn that the frequency of people adding on to homes or tearing down homes to build bigger ones is remarkably low. “I would like to see more people expand their homes, and have access to loans to do that,” she 711 ad pizzasaid.

Mayor Pro Tem Melanie Piana was excited by the turnout and the people engaging at the tables. “We need more input because it helps us on council prioritize… Cities are always changing, and the region is changing. It’s only natural to want as many citizens to be part of the process as possible,” she said.

Piana was part of the group that organized the Dales Neighborhood a few years ago. “It started in response to concerns in the community about Taft [school], but now we’re getting to know neighbors and creating a sense of belonging and place.” The Dales has regular meet-ups, participates in a city-wide garage sale, and has events like a booth for trick or treaters at Halloween and a spring meet up.

“Residents do want to be involved and the city wants to discover how to support neighborhood groups like the Dales.”

The Ferndale Exchange is another way the City is working to engage stakeholders. The online forum provides a structured way for people to engage online and share ideas or feedback about City projects. The Ferndale Exchange can be found at, and the site also includes a pdf. of the slides shared at the presentation.

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