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We are currently working on a grant program using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for eligible small businesses and non-profits that could be used to off-set the Installation Special Assessment.
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At this point in time, we are estimating a total project cost of $3.6 Million which includes the removal and replacement of the existing sidewalk and installation of snowmelt along Main on both sides of the street from State to the East property line of the Community Restaurant. This also includes snowmelted crosswalks at State and Main, Church and Main, Centennial and Main, Maple and Main, and a Midblock Crosswalk on Main between Elm and Church. (The crosswalk at Elm/Main is already complete.)
Generally speaking, the funds for this project have come in the form of unbudgeted Personal Property Tax Reimbursement payments from the State of Michigan. Since 2018, the City has received more than $5 Million from this unbudgeted revenue source.
These payments were unbudgeted because they are not guaranteed. The City did budget for nearly $4 Million of Personal Property Tax Reimbursements and did incorporate these funds into our operational budget. Since this additional $5 Million was not guaranteed, we did not feel that it was prudent to use these funds for operational investments or a lower the millage rate. Instead, we have chosen to use these funds for long-term transformative projects.
It is anticipated that property owners abutting this snowmelt system will responsible for two costs associated with the project which will be charged in the form of two special assessments.
At this point in time, we are planning to levy these special assessments based on the snowmelted area for each parcel. As part of the special assessment process, City Council could determine to place a cap on the square footage that is specially assessed, exempt specific parcels from the special assessments, or even choose not to specially assess for these costs.
Our plan is to begin construction during the spring of 2023 with an anticipated fall of 2023 completion. In order to be ready for construction during 2023, we will be working through final engineering, aesthetic design, special assessment processes, and grant policies throughout 2022. Our intention is to have a final bid package ready by December of 2022. During 2022, we will also be addressing items such as how to handle building insets, special assessment considerations for varying sized snowmelt systems, and project coordination.
Since the scope of the snowmelt project only includes sidewalks and crosswalks - it is projected that vehicular traffic through downtown will be maintained during the majority of construction. We envision a phased approach to construction, and are anticipating block-by-block phasing in order to minimize disruption. On-street parking spaces adjacent to the construction activities will be blocked off, in phases, as we work through the project, in order to facilitate contractor construction activities. We do realize though that some overlap between blocks will occur throughout the project in order to minimize the total disruption time to the Downtown. We will work with the contractor in order to maintain front door or partial driveway access throughout the majority of the project, but realize there may be times when front door access will not be available (i.e. during snowmelt tubing installation and during the pouring of concrete). During periods between sidewalk removal and reinstallation, when there is no concrete surface, temporary surfaces will be used, such as gravel, plywood walkways, or through other means.