By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer
Speculation has run rampant lately regarding the City of Durand’s Downtown Infrastructure Grant parking lot project that has been prolonged to an uncomfortable degree in some residents’ opinions, but City Manager Amy Roddy says that everything “will be completed by this November” and that “there is nothing to worry about.”
“The project is fully funded and will be completed this year,” Roddy said when questioned by The Independent. “Consumers Energy has been what has held the project up. After they complete their underground electrical work, which was extensive, we will be able to proceed. The rest of the project will move quickly, and we hope to meet our Nov. 1 goal.”
The city received the $750,000 federal grant in 2014 to remodel the parking lot behind the businesses on the west side of the 100 block of N. Saginaw Street and the walkway that connects the lot to Oak Street. Construction began this spring and Rohde Brothers Excavating has lived up to their end of the deal. Consumers Energy (CE) has, unfortunately, been a little slow with the work they were to perform, which has delayed the project several times, said Roddy.
Initial bids for the project came in at $1.3 million, which led the city to restructure and downsize the plan. Roughly 40 percent of the project was then cut in order to keep costs down, and the new proposal was bid at $923,454 by Rohde Brothers. That meant that the city would pay their required $85,000 in matching funds, with the additional funds coming from the city’s General Fund and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
While the city waited for CE to finish their work (which is still in the process of being completed), the city decided to explore funding options that would allow them to add the previously-cut items back into the project. The DDA has since agreed to help the city finance the additional $450,000 that is needed to complete the project as originally planned. The city is exploring multiple financing options that would allow them to pay their portion of the $450,000 back over a ten-year period, and the city plans to take the money from their Sewer Fund.
Roddy reports that the storm sewer work has been completed, as well as most of the underground electrical work. The re-added items will include permeable pavers, decorative pathway lighting along the railroad tracks, an expanded Dumpster enclosure, additional sidewalks, landscaping and ornamental benches. CE should be finished connecting the underground conduit lines to the adjoining businesses shortly, which will allow the finishing touches such as parking lot paving to be completed. Roddy reports that the Nov. 1 goal for completion is still within reach, and that everything should be done no later than mid-November.