Ferndale Infrastructure and Flooding on May 5
On May 5 Ferndale voters will have three major tax proposals to decide and one of them is the renewal of a bond of 5.5 mills, first passed more than twenty years ago, which then was an infrastructure bond to fix streets, water mains, and sewers. This time around, the city inexplicably left out any mention of sewers, water mains, and storm water infrastructure, and instead is asking the residents for the same amount of money, over a shorter period, for streets and parks.
My jaw dropped when I watched this proposal unfold at a City Council meeting this past winter, and I assumed I was hearing things wrong. Why would the City need $45 million for local streets, when our roads are in much better condition than they were in 1994? And why would this bond renewal not include funds to work on our aging sewers and water mains, and most of all, our desperate need for stormwater infrastructure?
I have not been able to see any specific studies on which roads they believe need replaced, although the mayor was quoted as saying all of our roads would be included. That the city needs the exact same amount of money as in 1994, but without water and sewer work leads me to think they just decided to ask for all the money again, and will decide later how to spend.
That is not how previous Ferndale administrations asked for taxpayer money. Under Mayor Goedert and Mayor Porter, proposals were developed first with specific needs and goals, and then priced out. Citizen's blue ribbon committees were formed made up of community leaders, business owners, and other stakeholders to explain the proposal to the public.
Ferndale homes have suffered repeated flooding in the past three years, including the giant rain event of last August 11th. Our own City Hall has flooded twice since 2012. The climate is changing and the Great Lakes Region is experiencing heavier, faster, and more frequent cloudbursts and historic rains. Why would our city leaders not be paying attention to this looming threat? If we spend the next fifteen years replacing roads but not installing green infrastructure, then the people of Ferndale can either give up using their basements or spend each summer cleaning up from combined sewage and stormwater overflows.
Ferndale voters always say yes to every tax proposal, and perhaps our elected officials are just taking for granted our progressive nature. I have voted yes for every school levy and infrastructure bond. I voted for the zoo tax and most others. But Im voting no on this one.
It is not the end of the world if this bond issue fails. A new revised request can be put on the ballot any November or May. But we need to ask our city staff and Mayor and Council to get serious and stop with the sexy projects and superfluous pie in the sky developments and do what we need to fix and protect the city's infrastructure.