Cities Share, but Volunteers Bring Them Together
Maybe Farmington and Farmington Hills are already on the path to becoming one.
One of the conversations that comes up over and over again in Farmington is whether the city should just merge with Farmington Hills.
Instead of two city councils, one. Instead of two mayors, one. Instead of two city halls, one.
I know folks who think it's a great idea and folks who would fight it tooth-and-nail. My sense is that the political will for a merger does not exist in Farmington, where the process would have to start. But I wonder whether it might be happening right under our noses.
Consider the list of shared services enumerated in resolutions passed this month by Farmington and Farmington Hills city councils. The resolutions qualify the cities for the state's new Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP), which rewards them with state revenues for meeting a set of benchmarks.
Even Farmington city manager Vince Pastue and Farmington Hills assistant city manager Dana Whinnery, who compiled the shared services lists, were "pretty amazed by the number of items," Pastue said.
Some of the sharing is easy to see: the library, the 47th District Court, recreation programs, services to senior citizens, cultural arts programs. Plenty goes on under the radar, too, in mutual aid agreements for emergency services and jointly funded commissions and committees.
Officials plan to share even more in 2012, from dispatch services to information technology and a Corridor Improvement Authority that will oversee redevelopment on Grand River.
Still, one item that didn't make the list speaks more to the growing unity between Farmington and Farmington Hills.
At Monday's Farmington city council meeting, council member Greg Cowley pointed out a significant number of volunteers connected with downtown Farmington's Main Street program come from Farmington Hills. They serve on committees, they give of their time at events.
These volunteers eat at downtown restaurants, they shop in downtown stores, they see movies at the Farmington Civic Theater. Side by side with Farmington residents, they enjoy the Founders Festival and Art on the Grand and Rhythmz in Riley Park concerts.
They see downtown Farmington as their downtown, so they've taken responsibility for it – and, in doing so, they form a powerful bond between the two cities.
How cool is that?