Clare votes to build new pump station despite Koch objections

Despite objections to proposal to build a new sewer pump lift station on the north end of Clare, the board voted 4-1 Monday evening to go ahead with the project.

Commissioner Tom Koch was the single dissenting vote, objecting to spending an additional $245,000 on the project to ensure that new industry and future development on Colonville Road would be able to connect to the City’s waste treatment system.

The city began discussing the need to repair or upgrade the present lift station at the last meeting and agreed to have Gourdie Fraser Associates develop a proposal, which was presented at Monday night’s meeting.  The station services the Clare Rest Area and businesses on the north end of the City.

Repairing the present Number 5 lift station, a five year fix, would cost the City approximately $75,000. Rehabilitation of the present lift station to last for 20 years would cost approximately $185,000.

The third alternative, and the one the board approved, was abandoning the present station and building a new one near the corner of Colonville and Old U.S. 27 (Clare Avenue) on the north side of the overpass on “Hamburger Hill.” The cost for the project including gravity piping under the freeway would be approximately $430,000.

“I’m not convinced that north (expansion) is the way to go,” Koch said. He said the City should pursue property adjacent to the present Industrial Park. “We are going to spend [an additional] $245,000 on the chance that ‘something’ might be developed out there?”  He suggested that the Colonville Property developers, the Northern Group, would agree to pay the additional cost of building a new station versus renovating the present one.  He said the City should ask them because the improvement would add “$245,000” to their property value.

Commissioner Bill Horwood said a request like that wouldn’t be fair. “I totally disagree with you Tom. We didn’t make industry [in the Industrial Park] pay for their own infrastructure other than connection fees.”

With the new station the area that could be serviced with a gravity feed to the site would more than double and encompass both the present businesses on the north end of the city and most of the property between Old 27 and Eberhart Road to the east. The new station would have a life of 20 years, the representative of Gourdie Fraser reported.

Commissioner Bob Bonham made the motion to build the new pump station on the north side of the overpass at a cost of approximately $420,000. He said the city has been saving for a project of this type and has the fund balance to handle the costs. Hibl said the fund balance is $650,000 with $250,000 set aside for a “super-station” project.  He also said $70,000 in USDA grant funds would be available.

When the roll call vote was taken, Mayor Pat Humphrey, Horwood, Bonham and Jean McConnell voted yes. Commissioner Koch said “Hell no.”

In another matter Monday, the City recognized Commissioner Horwood for his 15 years of service to the city with a resolution and a key to the city. Horwood, who will resign at the end of the month, service on the Planning Commission for seven years and on the City Commission for eight years.

The Commission also heard from the City Manager Ken Hibl that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently released the names of recipients of seven “clean diesel” engine grant awards and of the three granted to municipalities, Clare was named to receive $54,253 to a diesel engine heavy duty vehicle replacement.

Other business at the City meeting included:

  • Approval of the transfer of existing Industrial Facilities Exemptions for Integrity Printing to their building at the new location.
  • Approval of a new IFE for Robotic Welded Parts for $454,586,000 in improvements. The exemption is for 50 percent of the tax on the new equipment for a period of 12 years.
  • Approval of an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Village of Farwell promoting cooperation through bartering equipment and services.
  • A report of fuel sales and an upcoming runway project at the Clare Municipal Airport by Manager Dick Acker.
  • Discussion on the process to replace Commissioner Bill Horwood for the remainder of his term.