Hamtramck and Highland Park.
Like it or not, the fate of these two neighboring cities have apparently become intertwined.
At least that’s the impression you get from what some folks have been saying. Earlier in the week, there was a proposal floated out there for Hamtramck to absorb Highland Park Public School students because Highland Park’s district is about to collapse, financially-speaking.
Then just a day after all that talk, Hamtramck officials floated out their own proposal to provide, at first, police services for Highland Park, and then later, fire service as well.
Why would Hamtramck even contemplate taking over education, police and fire services?
It’s all about remaining an independent city.
Mayor Karen Majewski, who is as close as you can get to the inner workings of what state officials are talking about thanks to her role as president of the Michigan Municipal League, said if Highland Park were to be absorbed into the City of Detroit, Hamtramck would likely be next.
Majewski said one way to prevent that is to become a partner, of sorts, with Highland Park, which would also allow Highland Park to remain an independent city.
These are extremely challenging times for low-income cities like Hamtramck and Highland Park. There aren’t many options out there. And there isn’t much time to allow city officials from both cities to dither over these proposals.
What has to be hammered out is whether Hamtramck can actually provide any of these services at a cost that Highland Park can afford, and at a cost that will keep basic services in Hamtramck up to our standards.
A few years ago many here would have said no thanks to hooking up with Highland Park for fear that city would only drag Hamtramck down.
Now, it appears there is little choice.
Consider, too, state officials aren’t going to wait around for Hamtramck to figure out how to keep afloat financially. Tough times require tough choices.