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Allan

Dispute between Ferndale & Oakland County

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Dispute between Ferndale, county shouldn't be personal

Web-posted Mar 10, 2004

It seems that Ferndale and Oakland County officials have managed to pick a fight with each other. The county withdrew its downtown development efforts in Ferndale, claiming the city was contentious and ungrateful.

Later, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson cited an impressive list of assists the county had provided the city. He added it was time to shift efforts to communities still on a waiting list for similar help.

Meanwhile, Ferndale City Manager Tom Barwin is a long-standing critic of the planned widening of I-75 in south Oakland County. He says mass transit along Woodward Avenue should at least precede, if not displace, such a project.

The county has been anxious to add a lane to the crowded freeway for a long time.

Barwin's stance apparently has not made him popular with county officials. Some Ferndale officials have said he should perhaps lower his voice.

But he's sincere in his beliefs. He speaks to persuade, not to annoy.

More recently, the county said it backed a plan to enlarge the railroad yard in Ferndale, rather than, say, in Detroit. That brought more complaints from the city, including hints that the county was picking on Ferndale because Barwin's stance on the freeway widening and the downtown disagreement.

One would like to think all members of the Patterson administration are acting on behalf of what they believe to be the best interests of all of Oakland County, not against Ferndale in particular and not because of anything Barwin has done.

If that is untrue they should be ashamed of themselves for indulging in petty quarrels and in making policy differences personal.

Widening of I-75 ought to be done and a passenger rail line along Woodward Avenue cannot reasonably be seen as an alternative. There was one for years. That's where the median came from. It was called an interurban railway, the region was widely served by them and they disappeared as soon as reliable automobiles became affordable.

That said, it is not unreasonable to contemplate a trolley line along that route, especially in South Oakland. This would be a means of attracting and bolstering business and residential growth.

The broader issue here is sprawl. Patterson says those who use the word are denigrating vital economic development. Yes and no. Most of it needs to happen, but where?

The fact is that the county executive understands as well as anyone that the older communities such as Ferndale need to be economically healthy, which also is much of Barwin's point. Most of them are struggling.

There is a growing understanding that curbing expansion at the fringes cannot be done by building legal walls, but must come from luring the new investment to existing communities.

But who do you think is telling the state it must fix a major Headlee and Proposal A property tax glitch that makes older municipalities less attractive? It's the Patterson administration!

Let's look for opportunities to agree and agree to differ without retribution.

NEIL MUNRO

Way to go Big 3 workers.

N.M.

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/stories/031...040310014.shtml

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