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Farwell discusses Safe Routes to School project

By Pat Maurer

Review Correspondent

Farwell Village President Steven Grim reported to the Council Monday that the Clare County Road Commission needed assurance that any additional unforeseen construction costs above the grant award related to the upcoming Safe Routes to School project would be paid by the partnership between the Village, Surrey Township and Farwell Schools.

According to Clare County Road Commission Manager Ron Bushong, the CCRC board needs the assurance since they, as owners of the project, could be liable for unexpected costs over the grant amount.

A Federal Transportation grant totaling $434,936 was awarded for the project, the largest in the State, Bushong said. The estimated cost for the actual construction, which could begin next spring, is $418,000 including a ten percent contingency figure, Bushong said Wednesday.

“The Road Commission Board wants assurance that any extra costs over the grant total would be covered by the three partners before they sign the contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation,” he told Grim.

Bushong said the likelihood that the construction would go over budget is “slight,” but added that “There are always unknowns in construction.”

The Village, Township and School District agreed earlier to share in the local costs of design and engineering parts, plus incidental costs to the Road Commission for the project, which is contracted through Wilcox Engineering and estimated around $100,000. The CCRC did not agree to share costs but are acting as the administrator for the project and as the administrator, would be the project owner.

Bushong said Wednesday evening, “If the project is to be let (bid) in February, the final plans and commitment would need to be submitted to MDOT by mid-November.

At the Village meeting, Grim reported that the engineering costs have been less than anticipated and the construction estimate is $15,000 to $20,000 below the grant amount.

“The chances that the project will go over budget are very unlikely,” Bushong said Wednesday, “but my board still wants that assurance.”

The Safe Routes project would construct a walkway from the school and village to Surrey Road along Superior Street, a route used regularly by students going to the athletic complex. Plans have been ongoing for the past two years.

In another matter at the Village Council meeting Monday, Clare County Commissioner Lynn Grim reported that due to funding cuts and the 1016 Recovery bill, 42 families will lose assistance in the coming fiscal year. She said the Department of Human Services now has 277 families on assistance.

She also reported that plans are underway through the University of Michigan to promote a free medical and dental clinic in October. Funding is also being sought for a monthly “food truck” to assist needy families.

More bad news came when Commissioner Grim reported that the Clare County Transit is expected to be over budget for fuel by $80,000. “This will mean cuts in service,” she said.

Other business at the meeting included:

 

*A bid opening and subsequent approval to have Conlay Power Washing continue to mow lots in the Village for the remainder of the season and to rebid the work next spring for the 2012 season. Council member James Conlay abstained from the vote.

*Approval of a motion to purchase a printer for new Zoning Enforcement Officer Rod Williams as recommended by the Committee of the Whole.

*Approval to repair the Village backhoe at the cost of $1,000 for parts, also recommended by the COTW.

*Agreement to hold the annual Fall Clean Up on October 4th through the 6th.

*Discussion on the costs of informational signs for the Village. Council member Vicky Gunden reported that the required reflective signs would cost $185 each and indicate sites in the Village for visitors.

*Gunden also said that her application for leadership classes had been accepted.

*Approval of bills payable totaling $117,494.61.

The next Committee of the Whole meeting has been scheduled for September 16 at 9 a.m.