FERNDALE — The relationship between the city of Ferndale and the Kulick Community Center has come to an end.
At its September 26 meeting, Ferndale City Council agreed to terminate its lease agreement with Ferndale Public Schools for the use of the Kulick Center, located at 1201 Livernois Street.
“We are collaborating right now, moving our parks and recreation department to a workspace called Incubizo, where their new offices will be accessible to the public,” City Manager Joe Gacioch said. Incubizo, a coworking space, is located at 1938 Burdette St.
The relationship between the city and the school district began in 2000 when the two agreed to a 25-year lease for Ferndale to use the former Washington Elementary School as a community center.
The city continued to use the building until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic, along with infrastructure failures and budget challenges, forced its closure. Parks and Recreation staff have not been able to use the center since.
“The Kulick Center actually suspended operations…because the building is simply not fit to meet current health needs to deal with the pandemic, and it was going to be cost prohibitive to upgrade it,” Gacioch said.
The approximately 100-year-old building has now been returned to Ferndale Public Schools. Director of Communications and Student Services Bill Good said the building is closed and the district is considering its options on what to do with the center.
“It’s a very old building,” he said. “Buildings like this cost significant funds to be able to be renovated, and so what we are doing right now is we are investigating what to do with the property, and we are committed to retaining the ownership of the property. We’re not going to sell. It’s going to be part of the Ferndale Schools. We’re not sure yet of the best use of the property, and that’s what we’re looking at and we’ll be working with our community to get their feedback before making a final decision.
Good said the district plans to winterize the community center while it’s closed so it doesn’t suffer major issues while the school district figures out what to do.
“There is a decent sized playground and park on the property which we will maintain and continue for the community to use while we try to figure out what the best long term solution is.”
Good also said the district would not sell the property because the district knows some concerns may arise because FPS sold several properties about eight years ago.
“There were people who were very worried about it,” he said. “We will not sell this property. We just don’t know how much we will use it.
As for what the Department of Parks and Recreation will do now without a proper community center, Gacioch said that since the start of the pandemic, the focus has been on outdoor recreation.
“The Kulick Center provided us with an opportunity for indoor recreation and enrichment,” he said. “Obviously since that’s been closed, (Parks and Recreation has) been unable to do that, so they’re just focusing on what they can do, and that’s outdoor recreation. They are working with the school district to reinstate some indoor recreational activities, such as basketball leagues using school property.
On October 17, a resident-led facilities task force delivered a report to city council on recommendations for capital investments in city facilities.
For a community center, the task force recommended that Ferndale seek an indoor/outdoor recreation facility that would be located at Martin Road Park and that the city consolidate its parks and recreation office and meeting space into a possible new hotel in town.