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Ferndale to Consider $2 Million Project for Police, Court Renovations

Council members voted Monday in support of seeking a formal recommendation from city staff on the project, which would be funded through an existing building fund.

Ferndale City Council members voted Monday night to direct city management to develop a formal recommendation on a possible $2 million project to renovate the city's district court and police station.

The renovations would be paid for entirely through an existing building fund, which was set up by council 12 years ago and has put aside $20 from each ticket the court processes, 43rd District Court Judge Joseph Longo said during the meeting.

"We are now at a point 12 years later where the numbers are high enough that I think the council might want to consider doing some improvements to the courthouse," Longo said.

The court building on E. Nine Mile Road was originally a retail mattress factory outlet and was redesigned into a courthouse in 1971, Longo said. The building is structurally sound but is lacking security features and adequate space for the clerk's office.

There is no private meeting room for attorneys to meet with clients as required by pending legislation, Longo said, and the court does not have a handicap-accessible bathroom.

"We aren't looking for lots of pomp and circumstance but we're looking for something that the city can be proud of," he said.

Ferndale Police Chief Tim Collins also spoke, outlining safety issues and other concerns with the department's current space.

He said the police department's portion of its building, next to City Hall, has not been renovated in nearly 50 years and is used 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

In addition to wear and tear which is becoming "more apparent each passing year," Collins said the building is not a completely secure facility and concerns over prisoner security and officer safety would be the focus of the renovations.

Non-safety issues include no public restrooms in the facility, outdated infrastructure for technology improvements, lack of storage and improper ventilation, Collins said.

Council members unanimously approved a motion recognizing the "urgent needs" of both buildings and directing staff to continue reviewing renovation needs and to develop a formal recommendation to council for further action.

Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter thanked Longo and Collins for their presentations.

"Both of those buildings aesthetically are a mess but clearly the needs are beyond the aesthetics," he said. "It's time to address those."

Ferndale City Manager April Lynch said the renovations would likely take at least a year after the point at which a project is approved by council.

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