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July 2023


I hope by now you have heard the good news – after quite a bit of time dedicated to locating and securing a location better suited to serving the growing 50 plus population, we have an exciting plan in place.


Tom Markus, the recently retired Birmingham city manager, at the charge of the Birmingham Commission, diligently worked with Next to find our “Next” home. To that end, the city of Birmingham purchased the YMCA building on East Lincoln Street in Birmingham as a combined future site for Next and the Y.


This is great news for both organizations as our missions are well-aligned and our view of service to the community are very compatible. The Birmingham City Commission unanimously approved this plan, fulfilling one of the city’s important strategic goals – a new home where our 50 plus community can stay active and connected.


By sharing a building, the YMCA is able to preserve their longtime presence in Birmingham, making it possible to continue to provide many of their popular programs as it looks to expand operations in neighboring communities. The Y will reduce its footprint allowing Next to utilize 30,000 square feet of the current 40,000 square foot building – tripling our current space. Some of that square footage will also include shared spaces. As the city of Birmingham has worked to secure a bright future for Next, we have also made a significant financial contribution of $500,000 that solidifies our commitment to this new exciting phase in our combined efforts to elevate the programs and services to area residents.


Details about programs, membership, neighboring community involvement, available resources, and timelines, etc., will be carefully and thoughtfully discussed in conjunction with the city and the YMCA as we begin to plan for renovations in the coming months and years.


The next most critical step will be securing the funding needed to start the project. There will be final inspections on the building, and the need for many professional services to turn this plan into a reality.


None of this will happen easily without the proper funding in place. Our planned fundraising events that we do each year, the Golf Classic to Benefit Next and two annual fund appeals, will become even more important. We intend to make this fall’s event, Birmingham’s Big Night Out at the Daxton, even more widespread, and we will launch a capital campaign in the coming months. All of this will be a vital part of our strategic financial plan – as well as asking voters to approve a small senior millage on the 2023 November Birmingham ballot.


It is said that a society can be measured by the way they care for the most vulnerable, the young and old.


Birmingham’s youth enjoy many amenities around the community, from the numerous parks and playgrounds, tennis courts, the ice rink and skate park, ball fields and soccer fields, etc., all paid for by the Birmingham taxpayer. We are so fortunate that we live in a community that values public spaces and public amenities.


We also have a comprehensive public school system that not only provides a wonderful education, but also state of the art facilities for athletics, music, drama and extracurricular activities. Again, consistently paid for by taxpayers through millages and bonds, where more than 70 percent of homeowners don’t even have students in the public schools – a measure of a compassionate community.


Now it is time to extend that same compassion to our oldest residents.


By Michigan state law, municipalities can ask voters for up to a mill to support senior services. Almost every other municipality already takes advantage of this funding mechanism. Birmingham has not done so due to our previous arrangement with the Birmingham Public Schools. Now that we are moving away from the schools, for the first time, the city of Birmingham will be asking for support from the community in order to continue to provide the uninterrupted programs and services our older residents deserve, programs that promote life-long learning and social opportunities, along with supportive services such as Meals on Wheels and reliable transportation. On this November’s ballot, Birmingham will only be asking voters to approved a .33 mill, or $33 per $100,000 of taxable value per homeowner.


This November’s ballot initiative will include Birmingham residents only. It is our intent, as plans evolve, that the other communities we serve, Beverly Hills, Franklin and Bingham Farms, will also make a financial commitment to our combined 50 plus population. Those are conversations that will happen with each individual municipality moving forward.


With support from the Birmingham residents, along with our continued and expanded fund development efforts, we will be able to provide the programs, resources and services older adults rely on to stay active and connected, making Birmingham not only a great place to grow up, but grow old.


Thank you for your consideration and support.


Cris Braun is Executive Director of Birmingham Next

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