Clare will narrow right-of-way on Beech St.

March 23, 2017

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Despite a strong objection voiced during a Public Hearing by Clare resident Tom Bouchey, City Commissioners voted unanimously Monday evening to abandon 14 feet of right-of-way along a portion of Beech Street, which is now 80 feet. Most streets have a 60 foot right-of-way. Fourteen feet would be abandoned on the portion of Beech, seven on each side of the road.

Bouchey said, “I’m already mowing it. Why abandon it? He asked if his taxes would increase because of the additional seven feet, which would be added to private property on each side, and said he didn’t want to have to pay an assessment for curb and gutter when the street is improved this year.

City Manager Ken Hibl responded, “We don’t need the additional right-of-way. He said the street was scheduled for a paving improvement and for curb and gutter, but the property owners wouldn’t have to pay for that.

Commissioner Bob Bonham disagreed. He said in the past property owners had been assessed for curb and gutter on a paved street, although paving improvements were paid for by the city.

Hibl said they will investigate that before the improvement project begins.

Bouchey said paving improvements were needed on the street, but curb and gutter wasn’t. “The yards are higher than the street and the water runs down the middle,” he said. “Curb and gutter won’t do any good.”

In his City Manager’s Report, Hibl outlined the progress on the Little Tobacco Drain Improvement project.

He wrote:
The Little Tobacco Drain Inter-County Drain Board met in Clare on March 14th. The Board spent significant time discussing the proposed FEMA (Federal Emergency Management) grant. It now appears that the maximum grant amount the Drain Board can expect to receive from FEMA is $2.5 [million], more likely closer to the $2M range; the anticipated project estimate remains at $7Million – in great part due to the necessity to replace all the bridges within the project boundaries. Clare’s potential cost for those bridges could be as high as a breath-taking $3.1Million. The grant potential is restricted by the expected cost/benefit ratio.

 The engineer’s most recent estimate is that the City has 19 (potentially 21) property parcels that will be in the projected 100-year flood zone, even after the drain project is completed. FEMA will pay all costs associated with removing (demolishing or physically moving) the buildings on those identified parcels from the flood plain; however, it is the property owner’s discretion whether to accept that offer (it’s voluntary). The most important “take-away” at this point is that everything associated with the project is an estimate and projection – nothing is definitive at this juncture. More details should be known once the Board knows the amount of the FEMA grant and MDEQ decisions are received related to permits that will determine the ultimate width and depth of the drain once the project is completed. The next Board meeting is scheduled for May 2nd in Clare. It presently appears the project will proceed to the construction phase in 2018.

In another matter the commission’s approval was also given to apply for a Recreation Passport Grant that together with funds accrued for the proposed skate park in the Clare Recreational complex would pay $50,000 towards finishing the park. The grant would be for $37,500 with the local share less than $15,000. for the 2018 project.

The skate park committee has about $11,400 available and has invested $16,500 in the project so far.

In another vote, Commissioners also approved the parallel taxiway bids for the Municipal Airport project. Hibl said the bids had come in about $90,000 under the engineer’s estimate. Each year Federal and State Funds pay about 95 percent of $150,000 budgeted annually for airport improvements. The City pays five percent of the improvement costs. The bids for the parallel taxiway, which is already a third complete, will save about $5,000 for the City. The low bidder for the project is Mead Brothers Excavating, who also did the first third of the project.

Also during his City Manager’s Report at the meeting Monday, Hibl noted that the Methodist Church Child Care Center now has the funds so they will be able to build this year. The Child Care capacity will increase to allow for 30 children.

Hibl also noted that the Clare-Farwell Area Small Urban Committee voted that the $375,000 2017 Small Urban Development Grant will be used for CRC/Farwell roadway improvements with $356,000 in urban funds plus a 20 percent match by the Village of Farwell and Clare County Road Commission and for a Clare Transit Transponder for $18,400 with a 20 percent match by Transit.
In 2019 the Small Urban Grant will be used for the Farwell Mill Pond Bridge/Dam Safety Repairs for $375,000 with a 20 percent match by the Road Commission and the Village of Farwell.

Other business at Monday’s Clare City meeting included:

*Approval to continue the janitorial services contract with AWOL for two years. The contract extension provides for a $400 increase annually and for maintenance costs on the depot property when it is ready.

*An annual report from Jim McBride and Kathy Methner for the Middle Michigan Development Corporation, which reported that “2016 was a banner year,” with 702 new jobs reported in the companies they work with in Clare and Isabella Counties.

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