Church Street project delayed

REED CITY — When city officials announced plans to totally renovate and, in fact, recreate Reed City’s Church Street, people got quite excited.

It was about time.

When things started coming together last August, planners hoped to bid this project out at the first part of 2011. There were high hopes the project would take off in early spring and be completed by the end of summer 2011.

“If we can get bids back by February or March, we can actually hope to see work get under way in the springtime. I would think this project will take around three months to complete,” reported RC city manager Ron Marek at the time.

“When this process is completed, and when we get the job bid out, then we’ll really know exactly how much the project will cost. We hope it will come in under the awarded $3.5 million.”

The planned project is quite involved. Initial stages of work will involve the laying of new sewer and water lines — the real reason for the work in the first place. The primary purpose of this project is to replace the sewer and water lines not only to Church Street proper, but to a number of adjoining street areas as well.

In addition, the road surface will be replaced, there will be some sidewalk repairs made. The road renovation is a much welcomed addition to the program, and will certainly be the most obvious part of the program to most residents. New curb and gutter will be laid the length of the roadway.

There are a lot of areas along Church that don’t have adequate curb and gutter. New curb and gutter will help the municipality control water run-off that adversely affects the waste water treatment plant.

There’s been a delay — a substantial delay.

“As far as we are concerned, this is still a ‘Go’ project,” said Marek.

“The problem is, we are dealing with a lot of grant funding with a lot of grant project strings attached.”

Marek said the first major hurdle that was laid in planners’ path was in the federal government’s requirement for a much more comprehensive title search than the city had anticipated.

City planners had set out to carry out a title search on all properties the entire length of Church Street and any other affected area. This is simply standard operating procedure.

However, the United States Department of Agriclture (the granting agency in this case), demanded there be a title search on every single property within the City of Reed City. This because since the project involves a water and sewer improvement grant these two services effect every property owner in the city.

“The USDA wanted a title search on all water users within the city limits,” said Marek. “ALL of them. All 1,000+ water users in the city.

“This process has been extensive ... to say the least.

“We did manage to get this requirement adjusted a little bit. We still needed to get a title search on all the users within the project area — a pretty large area of the city. We knew when we were informed of this demand that it would affect the start of work.”

The second hurdle involved the city’s participation in the project.

“We knew that with the grant funding we had to make a down-payment on the project,” explained Marek. “This portion the city needs to pay comes in at about $250,000.

“Quite frankly, we are struggling to balance accounts and we’re not sure we can come up with that figure.

“If we can’t, it could delay the project until next year.

“We hope not. We are certainly going to try and make this project happen this year.

“I think we should be OK.”

In the best case scenario, things could still come together and the Church Street project could still get under way by the end of July.

In the worst case scenario, work may not begin this year at all.

There also are any number of other possibilities.

“We could also conceivably get part of the project done, and delay some portions of the work until next year,” said Marek.

“There are some options out there.

“None of those options are as good as having the entire project under construction and completed in one season. That may or may not happen — this year.”

Marek remains confident things will still work out.

“I’m very optimistic that the project will still get going this year,” he said.

“A lot will depend on what happens within the next couple weeks.”