Allen Park sells former city hall, PD, enters agreement for new site

Photo by Sue Suchyta Allen Park Councilman Angelo DeGiulio said at the Dec. 6 special city council meeting that the city could not afford a gun range for the police department at the site of the new city hall and police department, for which he drew criticism for calling it a “man cave.”

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Allen Park Councilman Angelo DeGiulio said at the Dec. 6 special city council meeting that the city could not afford a gun range for the police department at the site of the new city hall and police department, for which he drew criticism for calling it a “man cave.”

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The City Council passed resolutions Dec. 6 to sell the former city hall and police station site and authorize a purchase agreement for a new location at 15801 Southfield Road.

The new proposed city hall and police station site, the former Oakwood Clinic, may be purchased for $1.75 million.

The former city hall and police department property may be sold to two different buyers.

Tom Hannawa intends to purchase two acres at 16850 Southfield Road for fast food and coffee retail space. The original $1.2 million purchase price was reduced to $1 million when he agreed to assume responsibility for the demolition of the former city hall and police station structure. The council agreed unanimously to the resolution.

Mayor William Matakas said the city originally received three bids for the building demolition: $100,000, $200,000 and $400,000. At a previous meeting it was noted that the low bidder that originally accepted the job never initiated the demolition.

“The $200,000 is in the middle and probably a fair compromise for them to take the property and take that building down,” Matakas said.

Tanya Robin of Seven Roses LLC intends to purchase 5.2 acres for $1.3 million, northeast of the planned retail development, for secured, fenced and lighted vehicle storage. Robin and her husband, Basam Robin, own Superior Buick GMC, 14505 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn, and seek additional vehicle inventory storage space.

They have indicated they will not have any structures on the property. They also requested the first right of refusal on the sale of any adjacent property.

Councilman Kevin Rourke asked whether infrastructure needs would be addressed.

“I don’t want all the water dripping down here at the low end,” he said.

Matakas said the Robins would have to abide by the county restrictions on water retention on their property.

The resolution to sell to the Robins passed 5-2, with Rourke and Councilman Harry Sisko opposed.

The city entered into an agreement to purchase the former Oakwood Clinic site for $1.75 million, which includes a Fifth Third Bank ATM. The building has approximately 23,468 square feet, with an adjacent parking lot.

The resolution to enter into a purchase agreement passed 5-2, with Sisko and Rourke opposed.

Prior to the vote Matakas said it might be possible for the Police Department to have a gun range on site at the proposed location, from a space perspective, and he hopes the council will find a way to fund the $600,000 cost for it, a figure he said was quoted by architect Najim Saymuah of CDPA Architects and Planners, and Police Sgt. Wayne Albright, a strong proponent of a gun range.

“As the architect drafts out the space we need for all our uses, I don’t think we have to close that door,” Matakas said. “The (police) chief has been working on a whole new shooting-training program with a private company that he’s developing, that I think will soon be brought to us, and I think it will impact what the council thinks is necessary for building space. I would hope we would see it before the 120 days due diligence is up.”

Councilwoman Gail McLeod said although the gun range proposal was not brought up by the police chief, was not in his 6-year plan, and was brought up during the search for a city hall and police department site, she concurs with the mayor that a gun range is not a “dead issue.”

“I have had conversations with Sergeant Albright,” McLeod said. “I am very supportive of what the police do, and I believe that a well-trained police force benefits everyone.”

She said the council is trying to “do the right thing” for the residents.

“We are trying not to get the city in debt,” McLeod said. “We are trying not to repeat past mistakes. You cannot have it both ways. You can not be angry with an administration that put us in very dire straits, and then be angry with an administration that is trying to do the exact opposite.

“We will do the right thing. There’s been a lot of time spent by a lot of people who care about this city, whether elected, or appointed or hired.”

Councilman Angelo DeGiulio said there was no extra money for a gun range.

“We owe $16 million more on this property than we sold it for,” he said, referring to the current city hall and police complex at 16630 Southfield Road.

“We need to save that money that we were going to spend to put an addition on that (Oakwood) building, and not put an addition on, but certainly not spend it for a gun range, man cave for the boys to play in,” DeGiulio said, “to go there, and sit there and enjoy shooting and perhaps even invite their friends in if it’s allowed. I say there is not going to be a gun range as far as I’m concerned.”

Two women, one reportedly the wife of a retired police officer, verbally protested DeGiulio’s statements as they walked out of the meeting.

“That’s what you get here when you try to do what’s right for the 28,000 people,” DeGiulio said. “You hear that kind of garbage talk.”

DeGiulio said he was not against the police, and that there are a lot of good officers.

Sisko said the city had one opportunity to find the right building for a city hall, and that it was unfortunate that the timing was following the actions of an administration that almost bankrupted the city.

“We all have the best intentions,” Sisko said. “I absolutely believe that. We need to think about exactly what we need.”

He said the conditions in the former city hall and police department building were unbearable, and the air quality (mold issues) used to make him sick when he entered the building, something the police department endured for 15 years.

“And now we turn around and tell them, ‘Eh, you can’t have this, you can’t have that,’” Sisko said. “A police officer is a special breed. There is nobody here putting their life on the line except our police officers. It’s the only thing that saves us all the time.”

Sisko said the city owes the officers a first rate police department, with a training facility.

“We owe them a debt of gratitude,” Sisko said. “That’s what we owe them, to do the best we can, so they can protect us better.”

Matakas closed the meeting by urging council members to do their due diligence for the city.

“Let’s look and see what we can do, what’s the best facilities we can build out, and what’s the necessary price that has to be paid to do that,” he said.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)