Huntington Woods Opts Out of Public Safety Consortium Study
The project would have examined the feasibility of merging services between the city's Public Safety Department, the Berkley Public Safety Department and the Pleasant Ridge Police Department.
The Huntington Woods City Commission on Tuesday night declined an invitation from Pleasant Ridge to join a fully funded public safety consortium study that also would have included Berkley, instead suggesting such an analysis would be more effective if it also encompassed Ferndale and Royal Oak.
Pleasant Ridge received a $132,000 grant in December for a three-month study that would have examined the feasibility of merging services between the Huntington Public Safety Department, the Berkley Public Safety Department and the Pleasant Ridge Police Department.
However, Huntington Woods City Manager Alex Allie questioned Tuesday at City Hall whether the study could be expanded to all of the Woodward 5 communities, which include Huntington Woods, Berkley, Pleasant Ridge, Ferndale and Royal Oak.
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The Woodward 5 aims to collectively promote its member communities, located along 6 miles of Woodward Avenue, as a cultural hot spot and desirable place to live in Metro Detroit; the cities already share many services.
"I learned of the concept of a Woodward 5 grant yesterday at about 5 o'clock. That would have to be written as a separate grant," said Pleasant Ridge City Manager Sherry Ball, who added that Huntington Woods was first invited to join the three-city study in January. "Quite frankly, I am surprised that some of the communities the city manager talked about would be interested in this."
Allie conceded there is no guarantee that all of the Woodward 5 communities would approve such a study, but the City Commissioners and Public Safety Director Steve Fairman agreed that a larger-scale examination would be more useful and cost- and time-effective.
Mayor Ron Gillham and the commissioners also expressed a number of concerns about a potential consortium, including the following.
- The compatibility of public safety, police and fire departments.
- A consolidation's potential impact on response times.
- Residents' desire to maintain an independent Public Safety Department.
Gov. Rick Snyder has restructured state statutory revenue-sharing funds allocated to cities to encourage further consolidation such as the one the study would consider. The Berkley Public Safety Department already provides jail and dispatch services for Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge. Pleasant Ridge also has a contract with Ferndale for fire protection.
"To ignore Ferndale in the process is not professional," Commissioner Jeff Jenks said.
Ball pointed out that Pleasant Ridge and Huntington Woods have discussed merging services in the past and that Berkley was added to the conversation approximately 5 years ago. She also noted that the three communities already have a centralized dispatch.
The three-city study could show that just Huntington Woods and Berkley should form a consortium or it could show that all five communities should merge services, Ball said.
While Commissioner Mary White said she thought the study was "a wonderful opportunity," she would have preferred if Huntington Woods had been involved in the planning process.
"I want to be at the table when you're making the grant, not added as an afterthought," she said. "Otherwise, the city's best interest isn't really at heart."