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Park Council Approves Public Safety Grants

The Grosse Pointe Park council unanimously approved two state grants that relate to consolidation and public safety--one is for an all Pointes dispatch center and one is for a study on the consolidation of the Park and City public safety departments.

city council is the second to approve two grants awarded through the state's Economic Vitality Incentive Program that will help pay for two projects related to public safety and consolidation.

The . The grant may only be used if all five of the Grosse Pointe councils agree to participate.

It offers a 50 percent match up to $300,000 for the creation of one unified dispatch and lockup center to be used by all five of the Grosse Pointes. So if the Grosse Pointes contribute a combined $600,000 to such a project, the grant would kick in $300,000; for $400,000, it would add another $200,000.

The , which must be accepted within 60 days in order for the Pointes to take advantage of it. The 60-day deadline is March 20. Once all of the city councils have officially accepted it, officials have well more than a year to use the money.

Manager Pete Dame, who applied for the grants on behalf of the , said he would expect the project to take about one year to complete, which is well before the money must be used or lost. The Ad Hoc Committee found more than a year ago that such consolidation was ideal but not financially feasible for any of the Pointes at the time. It recommended , with the long-term goal of an all-Pointes dispatch/lockup center.

Three members of the Grosse Pointe Park council were absent during the meeting but the remaining four voted unanimously to approve the grant. The same night, city council also approved the grant unanimously.

Mayor Robert Novitke confirmed with City Manager Al Fincham that by accepting the grant it was only making the money a possibility for the five Pointes to take advantage of not committing a particular amount of tax dollars to the project. Fincham confirmed that by accepting the grant, it gives the Pointes the option to use the grant money should they wish to but it does not lock them into it. 

Meanwhile, last week the council avoided taking action on the grant, saying they wanted more information about it and what it was going to cost them. There was also discussion about how the Shores has already achieved long-term savings by their own dispatch consolidation with the Farms, making them question whether they should agree to participate in the bigger project.

The all-Pointes dispatch/lockup grant must still go before the city council, which meets next on March 12. Farms City Manager Shane Reeside said the grant will be on the agenda for that meeting.

Second Grant to Pay for Study

The second grant approved this week by the Grosse Pointe Park council relates to

The study intends to evaluate whether such a consolidation would be a money-saver, how such a consolidation would be implemented and whether it is truly feasible and worth both cities to do. Many residents in the Park have voiced opposition to such a consolidation fearing it would thin road patrols in a time when manpower is lower than in years past.

This grant will pay for $20,000 toward the study. The process for getting it started is likely getting underway because both cities involved have already approved it.

As a measure to ensure the study is completed in a broad enough manner, City officials extended an invitation to Grosse Pointe Farms officials to join the study along with the City and the Park. The Farms council voted against joining the study for a variety of reasons.

Farms Mayor James Farquhar said one of his main objections is that the study seems to be independent of the ad hoc committee, which was established with the goal of identifying and implementing operational efficiencies among the public safety departments that ultimately will save money. He said the study is moving more quickly than he's comfortable with.

In approving the study grant, Grosse Pointe Park council members emphasized the need to ensure that training levels are evaluated for both departments. Councilman Daniel Clark highlighted the number of training hours completed by the Park's public safety department in 2011, saying he wants similar expectations related to training from any other department they would entertain the idea of consolidating with.

John Hetzler contributed to this story.

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