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Council OKs West Nine Mile Road Enhancement Project

The plan includes narrowing the current five lanes of traffic to three lanes to allow for on-street parking and improved pedestrian accessibility and safety.

Ferndale City Council approved a $1.1 million West Nine Mile streetscape project at their regular meeting on Monday night.

The project extends from Livernois to Pinecrest and aims to improve walkability, safety and the overall appearance of the area.

Ferndale Downtown Development Authority executive director Cristina Sheppard-Decius said this part of West Nine Mile has a higher rate of vacancies and is currently hazardous for pedestrians and lackluster for consumers.

"This was always an area that we had looked to eventually getting to," she said.

Work will take place between April and September next year, including resurfacing West Nine Mile Road from Planavon to Pinecrest, water main replacement and a variety of streetscape improvements. The road will go from five lanes to three lanes, on-street parking will be added and sidewalks will be wider.

The city had already budgeted for water and sewer replacement and street resurfacing for this section of West Nine Mile, and the DDA utilized the opportunity to seek out grant funds for street enhancements.

Grant money secured by the DDA covers $590,134 of the project and the DDA has also contributed more than $60,000 in engineering costs.

City management provided three options in which the city could fund the remaining $473,443 cost, with one option being the extension of four Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plans along the DDA boundaries.

A TIF plan allows a municipality to capture whatever additional tax revenue comes in as the result of rising property values within a specified district, and to use that revenue for improvements in that same district.

Council ultimately voted to fund the project with a 50/50 split between the city's Major Street Fund balance and the General Fund Balance. The street fund will have a $525,000 remaining balance and the general fund balance will have $5,179,000 remaining.

Councilman T. Scott Galloway was the only "no" vote, as he was in favor of the TIF funding. He said he enthusiastically supports the enhancement project but is "adamantly opposed" to the chosen financing approach.

Mayor Dave Coulter said TIFs have been "a great tool for the development of our downtown" but have downsides too. "If we've got the financing to do it then I don't think it's a necessary tool at this time," he said.

Councilman Dan Martin noted that voting for a different funding structure doesn't mean a vote against the DDA. "We wouldn't be here today without the work the DDA has put into this," Martin said.

Mayor Pro Tem Melanie Piana said she appreciates the community outreach that went into making the plan - including an event last summer, where more than 50 residents offered input into the types of improvements they'd like to see on West Nine Mile Road.

"This is definitely a move in the direction where we want to go as a community," she said of the project.

Stay tuned to Patch for more details on the West Nine Mile enhancement plan.

rolfsy October 23, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Wonder if a saner intersection for 9/Livernois is still in the cards, or if this improvement is the final word on that.
Jim O'Donnell October 23, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Yes, the approved plan will allow for subsequent improvement to the Nine and Livernois intersection. Dan Martin asked a variation on your question at the meeting. I was impressed by the plan, and also look forward to a saner intersection there.
T. Scott Galloway October 23, 2012 at 06:42 PM
This is going to be a great project for Ferndale, our residents and businesses. Although I am correctly quoted in the article as being "adamantly" opposed to the financing I believe that was a poor choice of words and overstated my opinion on the subject. While I would have preferred that we had paid for this project through the use of tax increment financing the approach approved by Council was a responsible way to match the grant we received for the project. Our un-designated general fund balance, which is at a very healthy 28% of our budget, is able to absorb this cost. Our investment in this infrastructure, like our previous investments on Nine Mile Road, seems like an almost sure bet to improve our downtown and grow the City tax base.
Ferndale Resident October 23, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I'm very excited to see how this all unfolds. That part of Nine Mile has needed help for a while and I'm glad to see it being addressed.
Laura Berger October 23, 2012 at 11:06 PM
My 9 Mile dream project: reclaim/purchase the western half of the Ferndale Foods parking lot (which seems underutilized/unneeded, from my perspective) including the "thruway" from 9 Mile to Withington (and the driveway on 9 Mile at Livernois) and create a small park with trees/greenery, a small fountain, and benches! I would love a small downtown park/square in our city! Does that seem feasible, and if so, how does something like that happen?
Melanie Piana October 24, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Laura: Many other folks share your dream and concerns about the Livernois/9mile intersection. The DDA already produced some design concepts for this intersection (including a round-a-bout), however this project is slated for later because of the cost. It is a separate project from the West Nine Mile streetscape project. When the DDA/city is ready, we'll have more public engagement opportunities for residents and businesses to give feedback on the intersection.
Alexandra October 28, 2012 at 11:54 AM
I hope I understand this well, and will be at the open house on 11/7 @ 925 W. 9 Mile. My wheel chair got stuck in sand, in front of the side of the bldg. of CVS. This was as I was trying to get to a business just west of this, on the sidewalk is a lamp post in the middle of the side walk. I tried to get around the lamp post and got stuck in sand/dirt. Then I tried to go around (which was between the lamp post and the street) again - I almost slid into traffic. There is about 1ft. of cement on each side of the lamp post (maybe 2ft. on one side of it). Imagine how that will be in the winter weather!!!! I can't take the chance on the sliding into traffic, so, I will call the non emergency Police to get me unstuck next time. I will continue supporting the businesses on 9 Mile - if I am able to get to them!!!!
Easydude October 28, 2012 at 11:41 PM
We really need a new DDA. Another poor choice made, have you seen the traffic during mid day and evening traffic? We need more lanes and less parking. Why not just purchase parking from Ferndale Foods for those few shops. We could spend the money on two additional police officers walking 9 Mile. We should be worried about the new strip mall on 8 Mile taking business away from our markets.
Sharon Kaiser October 29, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I am sorry, I meant 9 Mile east of Pinecrest.

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