Ferndale is leading the way in transforming the Woodward corridor and has signed on to a strategic plan to make improvements and changes.
At Monday night’s City Council meeting, the Woodward transit-oriented development task force was adopted after council member Melanie Piana, a leader in the effort, and Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) Executive Director Heather Carmona, a key partner, presented to the council.
Piana said the plan is about “five communities coming together to study and improve land use and increase economic development opportunities.”
The plan touches on issues such as parking capacity, bicycle transit, road diets, safety regulations and making the corridor more of a “pedestrian environment,” put into place by a task force.
Ferndale is the first of the five cities to approve the plan. Berkley, Huntington Woods, Birmingham and Royal Oak are expected to sign on by the end of April.
The task force, known as Transform Woodward, follows a yearlong collaboration effort with WA3 and Michigan Suburban Alliance, and extensive research by an LSL Planning Inc. study to identify needs and potential along the corridor. The project was funded by a $50,000 grant WA3 received.
The end result is a full report with research and suggestions that is now being presented to each city’s council.
Carmona told Ferndale City Council that Woodward Avenue has been an area of development needing the kind of momentum the task force could offer.
“Where there was a void was in some leadership as it relates to transit (and) transportation. To Melanie’s credit, and the city of Ferndale’s credit, there was a willingness to step up and say, ‘Here’s what we would like to see,’” she said. “Ferndale was already at the forefront, but there was a sense that it needs to happen not only in Ferndale, but the corridor as a whole.”
Mayor David Coulter called the report “fascinating” and applauded Piana and WA3 for leading an issue that the city finds important.
“It’s clear in this document that much of this is well under way in Ferndale, and not to pick on our neighbors, but they need to catch up to us in some ways,” he said.
Coulter also encouraged residents to read the report and better understand the “shared vision” of the communities and what improvements might be in store.
Once the rest of the communities adopt the plan, next steps include looking at shared assets along the corridor, according to Piana, and Carmona said she hopes that the improvements will go into effect quickly.
“The hope is that it’s not just a plan that sits on a shelf, but is a document that would be a real guiding document and a usable document when you look at your master plan,” she told the council.
Council Member Mike Lennon spoke up about the plan and welcomed its impact. “I think this is wonderful,” he said. “It’s time someone stepped up to the plate and started doing something like this.”