Shifts in Parks and Rec as Ferndale Considers Ending Kulick Lease, Moving Offices to Incubizo
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 22, 2022)
Ferndale, MI – Ferndale City Council is taking a look at Parks and Recreation as part of their Monday night meeting, including the decision to end their lease with Ferndale Public Schools for the Kulick Community Center, and also to move Parks and Recreation administrative offices to the Incubizo building.
Parks and Recreation staff have been working remotely since the pandemic began, and have not been able to return to their offices in Kulick Center because of the deterioration of the building, including problems with the roof and heating system. Indoor activities that were paused during the pandemic have not resumed, though the Ferndale Seniors Group has been meeting at the Hazel Park Community Center. (New members are welcome, and residency is not a requirement).
The Kulick Center, located at 1201 Livernois, was built over 90 years ago and was then known as Washington Elementary. The City began leasing the building from the school district in 2000, at a cost of $1 per year. The lease is for 30 years, but it’s on the agenda for the Monday, Sept. 26 meeting.
The City has been looking at all infrastructure needs, including the cost of repairs, for several years. In 2018 a task force was chosen to examine Kulick Center needs. Their recommendations were then considered by a task force created earlier this year to look at all City-owned buildings.
According to the City of Ferndale website, “In February of this year, City Council appointed a nine-member resident task force for city facilities. The task force concluded their meetings in August; a final report with recommendations is expected to be presented to City Council in October. The report will provide City Council with short- and long-term recommendations for city facilities, including a recommendation to shift our budget away from the Kulick Center toward other more productive facilities… The City’s facilities budget constraints, ownership issues, and critical infrastructure improvement needs for the building are important reasons for the task force’s recommendation to shift strategies for community parks and recreation needs.”
In other words, they’re giving it back, and both the City and the Schools are considering what to do next.
Ferndale Communications Director Kara Sokol told Oakland County Times that “Plans for a new community center have been discussed and researched carefully by the resident-led Facilities Task Force and will be presented in October. For now, programming will continue as it has been throughout our community (in parks and community spaces, such as the Curling Club, where Fall Fest takes place). Parks and Rec will soon open a new public office space in the Incubizo building located at 1938 Burdette.”
Incubizo is a privately owned co-working space not far from City Hall that offers both co-working opportunities and dedicated offices. City Hall is also one of the buildings being considered by the facilities task force, along with the two fire stations and the DPW yard. The public can expect more suggested changes as the City strives to make their building use more effective, more engaging for the public, and more environmentally conscious.
“I appreciate our collaboration with the Ferndale School District and the support given to us by Dr. Bobbie Hayes Goodrum. This partnership has helped us restore office space for our Parks and Recreation Department, in their temporary new home at Incubizo, and I am optimistic about the future opportunities in front of us,” said City Manager Joe Gacioch.
The Schools are optimistic too. The recent hiring of Bobbie Hayes Goodrum as the new Superintendent means a fresh look at future plans, including how best to use the Kulick space. But it’s still too soon to know what that best use is.
Ferndale Schools Communications Director Bill Good told Oakland County Times, “We have a great working relationship with the City of Ferndale and we will continue to seek joint opportunities that benefit the city and its residents.”
In the short term that means working together to winterize the building until future plans can be made. The park and playground equipment at Kulick will remain accessible to families while the next steps are being decided.
“In March of 2020 residents passed a comprehensive 10 year bond initiative for Ferndale Schools. Due to the City of Ferndale occupying the Kulick Center at that time, it was not considered as a part of the master land use plan,” Good said. “FPS is currently making great progress on the bond plan which provided for the modernization of our facilities. Due to increasing enrollment, FPS is committed to maintaining ownership of the property on which the Kulick Community Center sits and is investigating the best future use for both the building and property.”
In the meantime, the City of Ferndale is also continuing to implement the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, with the most obvious additions in recent years being the skate park and fitness park at Geary Park, and the splash pad at Martin Road Park. Facilities will be an ongoing discussion. In 2021 a building needs assessment determined there was $7.5 million in building needs, which were considered by the task force, whose recommendations will be announced in October.
The council meeting takes place Monday, Sept. 26, and the agenda can be found online at https://www.ferndalemi.gov/council-meetings.