I'm an old woman with a long history in Ferndale. In the 1980s, I sold real estate. Once I listed a darling house on a street with rundown houses. A real estate agent from Birmingham came to show the house. He looked around the street, sniffed and said, "This is the armpit of America." That hurt. But Ferndale was definitely in sad shape.
In 1991, my son, Chuck (Goedert), and a former police chief, Pat Sullivan, won seats on the City Council. Councilman Sullivan said the best thing to do with Ferndale's downtown was to bulldoze it. Many buildings were boarded up, and there was no foot traffic at all.
Due in large part to Chuck's leadership over 10 years, the BUILD program was instituted to fix up business fronts, a Downtown Development Authority director was hired, and the downtown came alive. Throughout the city, people began to fix up their houses — one at a time. Now I see no shabby streets.
We have fixed our sidewalks, repaved our streets, relined our sewers, passed a dedicated millage for our library and another to expand the library. We have supported our school millages. We have a town that Norman Rockwell would enjoy painting and living in.
We're all in deep trouble now because of the global economy — and we have choices to make. History shows that it's expensive to let your town die. It costs in low property values. It costs in the quality of life that we value — fast fire and ambulance service, community center, clean parks, safe walkability.
It would cost us a lot, and we would get a lot less, if this millage fails. Since property taxes have gone down in the past couple of years, this millage will essentially restore them to what we paid in 2009.
The millage to be voted on May 3 should see us through the next five years when it will end. Hopefully, we'll be past this crisis by then. In the meantime, we will have survived in good shape.
Please vote yes for the millage May 3. Vote YES for Ferndale.
Ferndale resident Nancy Goedert