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Dearborn Schools Opposing Move Into New City Hall—For Now

The city had hoped to apply for a competitive assistance grant through the state if the district and city offices were to merge their space.

As the City of Dearborn moves forward with plans to transition to a new city hall building by 2014, efforts to incorporate Dearborn Public Schools into that plan have stalled.

More: City Discusses Design Elements of New City Hall

Mayor Jack O'Reilly said in meetings last week that he had hoped to apply for a grant through the state's Competitive Grant Assistance Program, which rewards municipalities for mergers and partnerships with other cities and entities aimed at saving all parties considered significant funds.

The grant would have provided up to $800,000 for the project.

The deadline O'Reilly had hoped to reach for applying for the grant in regard to the city-schools location merger was Dec. 3.

"If the grant comes, we have to decide if we're doing it or not," he said in a meeting with Dearborn City Council last Tuesday. "It's still speculative, but it's still proceeding."

However, Dearborn Public Schools spokesman David Mustonen confirmed that the district's Board of Education feels that the timing isn't right to proceed with a move of the district's administrative offices.

The offices are currently located inside the Ten Eyck building on Audette, which is also where Board of Education meetings are held.

"Our board at this time feels like we don’t want to be involved with the project," Mustonen said.

"There’s a lot going on in the district right now," he added, "and there’s a lot of need in our schools."

According to the Dearborn Times-Herald, Supt. Brian Whiston and the Board of Education said after a meeting Nov. 27 that they felt that more information was needed before proceeding with a merger of spaces.

“The board felt like they didn’t have enough information to commit to a grant with the city and schools,” Whiston told the Times-Herald.

The board ultimately voted against applying for the competitive assistance grant.

Mustonen stressed that the decision not to merge is not a final one, and that the district will revisit the issue in the future.

"It’s not that we wouldn’t consider it down the line," he added.

The decision from the district will not affect the city's plan to move into the new building, which is located on Michigan Avenue just west of the Henry Ford Centennial Library, by early 2014.

The city purchased the building—formerly occupied by ADP—for $3.2 million this year. The national nonprofit Artspace has signed a letter of intent to buy the current Dearborn City Hall and turn it into live-work space for artists, though no deal has been formalized.

Do you think Dearborn Public Schools should consolidate their offices into the new city hall building? An unscientific poll of Patch readers earlier this year found that 51 percent said no. Tell us what you think in the comments!

Pam December 03, 2012 at 01:29 PM
They will move in when we vote them more tax money. That's what the city did.
bitsy08 December 03, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Why is it the city is cutting expenses everywhere except when it comes to buying a new space for the city's offices? Where'd the money come from? And why didn't they wait to formalize the first deal on the old city hall before comitting to spending millions on a new one? Why is it necessary to have a new city hall now when things are so tight? Why don't they wait a few years down the line when things are hopefully more fluent? Seems politicians everywhere want us to cut back but never want to impose those same rules on themselves.
Michael D. Albano December 03, 2012 at 03:03 PM
DPS not agreeing at this time to move into the new city hall is another example of our city leadership not performing due diligence, which can be added to not making the purchase of the new city hall contingent upon the sale of the current city hall. In the private sector had leaders handled the transaction this way, they would have been fired. However, now that the new city hall purchase is a "done deal", there is not much taxpayers can do about it, except to make sure they vote for new city leadership in the 2013 election.
City of Dearborn (Editor) December 03, 2012 at 03:08 PM
One thing to add: Council discussed last week that city offices will only take up about two-thirds of the space in the new building. So if DPS doesn't come on board, what should be done with the rest of that space?
Kent Gartner December 03, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Oh corse they didn't agree. The reason why is clear because its not about them and how they can make money off the deal. The leadership of DPS and the city are crybabies when they can't get there way. How bout this the mayor poneys up and just says your moving wether or not you agree and sell the building out from under them. I mean they all ready did that to city hall so what's the difference really.
West Dearborn Citizen December 03, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Merge with the animal shelter.
Dearborn Taxpayer December 03, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Great point Pam! It looks like the School District will be asking voters for a new K-12 tax millage in November 2013 when they will also ask voters to approve a renewal of the "temporary" 5-year (soon to be 10 years) additional one-half millage for HFCC that was passed in 2003 and renewed in 2008.
Lee Jacobsen December 03, 2012 at 03:53 PM
If the move saves the taxpayers money, it should be done. Simple as that. We need a million dollar study to determine the cost savings......
Disappointed resident December 03, 2012 at 11:36 PM
It's sad graft continues at city hall. These guys will be dead before they spend all the money they are stealing. New city hall is the same thing all over again-vacant for 5 years- black mold too- it is no different than MWards & la Shish $300,000 kickback to past dead mayor. Watch city hall cost $10,000,000 soon! Bring more tax money. Why does FoMoCo put up with this? dumb dumb dumb
marooned in Dbn December 04, 2012 at 10:03 AM
rent it out to artists.
laplateau December 05, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Bitsy....you ask where the money came from to purchase the new digs for hizzoner. Remember a year or so back when the mayor said we needed to amend our city charter to raise the allowed millage rates they could assess so save our services? Well..we believed them again and voted for that millage increase. You have to ask the question..if things were so bad just months ago that we needed to raise our taxes, how can we affoird to shell out 3.2 million for a new building? We were hoodwinked again by O'Reilly and his "go along to get along" council!
Rich December 06, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Years ago, if we have any long term Council session viewers here, Mr, O'Reilly (at the time he was Council Prez). This was just when the City was starting to push for paid parking in West D. He was asked about the 'SAD' funds for maintenance of the lots (since this was the actual issue - they were not being maintained). He mentioned that there was about $340,000 in the fund BUT that the City has deemed it worthy to 'borrow' those funds. He was then asked if the City had repaid those funds. His answer was quite short - "NO!" No other comment - just "NO!".

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