Stantec Officially Hired to Begin Planning Process For Seven Mile Property
The company meets today with officials and township agrees to take names of residents wanting smaller garbage cans.
The effort officially begins Friday to create a public-supported master recreation plan for the former Northville Psychiatric Hospital along Seven Mile Road.
The Northville Township Board of Trustees unanimously agreed Thursday night to hire the local office of Stantec, for $100,000, to create the plan. The process is expected to include a lot of public input and meetings.
The entire process will likely take about eight months, said Stephen Plunkard, a principal with the company. His firm is meeting with township staff today to begin the process.
“We’re going to have the kick-off meeting, and will soon start creating an advisory committee and focus groups,” said Joe Looby, also with the firm, after the meeting. “You should start to see public meetings about this in about month.”
The township put out a request to companies for a proposal to create a master plan for the property, as officials thought it would be too difficult to ask the staff to come up with a comprehensive plan for the 334 acres.
Eight companies responded to the request, including Northville-based McKenna Associates and LSL Planning from Royal Oak.
A board subcommittee picked out Stantec, which also serves as the township’s contracted engineering firm. The choice was made based on the firm’s comprehensive process, rather than price, said Township Trusteee Marjorie Banner, who also chairs the subcommittee. The other companies were not asked to provide a cost estimate, Banner said.
As a hired contractor, Stantec has already been working with the township on the site of the hospital, which was built in 1952 and closed in 2003. The company has reviewed environmental assessments, which show that pollution exists on the site, and even prepared and submitted a cleanup grant application to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The company’s plan for this year includes five phases: A kick-off meeting, being held Friday; research; public outreach; design, phasing and cost estimating; and preparation and presentation of the final master plan.
Public outreach will be a very large factor, said Plunkard, who is based in the company’s Boston offices (the firm is based in Edmondon, Canada). This will include creating a township advisory committee of about 30 people from all walks of life in the community to not only bounce ideas off of, but also to serve as ambassadors of the plan. There will be many public meetings about it, including at least one “design charrette,” basically a public brainstorming session.
The company will even work to come up with a “brand” for the plan, including a logo for the site and the planning process, to get community buy-in. Churches, community groups, schools and senior centers will also be scoured to get public opinion on what to do with the property, Plunkard said.
Near the end of the process, the company will run two-three near-finished design plans past members of the community to pick what would best represent the township desires, Plunkard said.
Trustee Marvin Gans pointed out that a plan is needed, however, just to try to gain grants or other funds that could help with the property.
Supervisor Mark Abbo said he is happy to see the process for the property moving forward, but also said he wants to be sure that everyone involved is trying to find ways to raise funds for whatever the plan draws up. “I believe that not all of it should be for municipal use,” he said. “I plan to propose that we sell off the portion where the hospital buildings sit to a developer, which could help fund whatever we come up with for the rest of the property.”
A joint venture of developers Real Estate Interests Group and Schostak Bros. owns another 80 acres of the property, but officials from the firm have told the board that the economy does not now support any new retail development. A brownfield reuse process, which will clean up pollution on the site, is tied to the companies bringing a new development to the property.
Also discussed at Thursday’s meeting, were the township's new trash carts. The board acknowledged that it will start creating a list for residents who want to get smaller garbage cans than the recently-issued 95-gallon and 64-gallon garbage carts.
The board recently signed a new waste contract with Toter Inc., which promised to keep sanitation bills at the same level for four years. However, the company uses automated garbage trucks that operate with certain size garbage carts – a change that has some residents upset.
Township officials purchased thousands of the new carts and started distributing them to residents for free in the past weeks. However, the township has received more than 50 complaints that the carts are too large, and more residents said the same complaint at Thursday’s meeting.
The residents said they can’t fit the large carts in their garage, so they sit outside, where they are an eyesore. “We want the community to look good. People are trying to conceal them, but it’s not always possible,” said resident Bill Sivy.
Abbo agreed to have the township begin taking names of people who want smaller carts.
“We will look into this to see what we can do,” Abbo said.