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June 15, 2019 | 6:02pm
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Mayor provides details regarding city’s interest in Old Main building

City of Ferndale Mayor Jon Mutchler took to his personal Facebook profile Saturday evening to explain the city’s interest in the possibility of acquiring the Old Main section of Ferndale High School from the Ferndale School District, a proposal My Ferndale News had reported on earlier that day.

COF officials inspecting old main 2019-03 src jon mutchler

This is FHS Old Main—a small but significant part of our high school. It is no longer suited for the education of Ferndale teens and is slated to be torn down.

The folks pictured inspecting the Library (formerly, the gym) are key members of our city staff: our city administrator (FHS Class of 1993), building and fire inspector, public works director, and planning director.

At the mayor’s request, they are initiating a feasibility study on whether we can repurpose Old Main for long-term city use (and, likely, sell some existing assets to pay for the remodel).

Though Old Main can no longer serve some 1500 students and staff DAILY (and those impacts) it MAY have enough “bones” and life to handle the office and community work of 25-30 City Hall professionals, and perhaps much more.

Don’t we think we should find out? I do, and I’ve requested that study.

The City has a VISION, but we call it our “Comprehensive Plan,” and by law we are required to keep it up to date. It is very important as it directs Council, Mayor, and City staff in it’s long range planning.

Here is the link to the Comp Plan. Go to Chapter VI, Capital Facilities. I direct you to pages 14-15 which discusses some of our facility projections (20-year view).

Clearly, one can see why we are intrigued with repurposing a beloved and historic building. It comports with the Comp Plan.

Will this work? Perhaps. We don’t know. But we are very grateful that the school administration is discussing this with us.

I first learned of the idea, post election, from a FHS grad. And my first thought, COOL!

Finally, I asked our City Administrator, Jori Burnett, to draft a statement. I close with his words:

“The City is in the process of evaluating the existing condition of Old Main for possible re-use as City Hall, Ferndale Council Chambers, Ferndale Municipal Court, and other community activities and services [Community Resource Center]. While the long-term use of the structure as a school building is likely not sustainable, its potential use as a City facility is expected to have significantly lesser impacts.

The City has a long and successful history of finding new uses for existing buildings. City Council Chambers and Court were previously utilized as the City’s Fire Station and City Hall. City Hall was previously used as a bank. The Pioneer Pavilion re-used the former Boys and Girls Club, which in turn re-used the Ferndale roller skating rink. The Police Station took the place of the library.

Should the City wish to acquire Old Main, it would do so with the understanding and cooperation of the Ferndale School District, in a manner that would support the School District’s construction of a new facility and with the full expectation that the overall costs to the community would not increase and could even decrease, when compared to the development of new or the expansion of existing City facilities.” – Jori Burnett

Old Main, along with the much of the rest of the Ferndale High School campus,
is currently destined to be replaced by a new high school structure.

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Should the City consider purchasing Old Main from the School District?

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  1. Uhhh, who’s gonna pay for it? Can the city bureaucrats please answer in detail?

    And, what will the taxpayer get in return for its investment?

  2. As we look at possibilities of higher water rates and Sewer rates once again, the tax increase by the fire district, and now the mayor wants to spend money on a building that wasn’t good enough for a students? The mayor needs to realize money does not grow on trees and taxpayers are push to the limits in paying again and again and again to support his financial habits. I believe the citizens should vote on this not the city council after all we’re the ones that are going to have to pay for this. In the mayor’s personal Facebook statement, in paragraph 4, he says the building is great to accommodate 25 to 30 employees or more. That tells me he’s going to grow government and hire more people and that’s more money out of our pockets. I do not believe this is something that the city should aspire to purchase.

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