EVART — After multiple delays and a time extension from the state, the city of Evart is finally hoping to take advantage of the Downtown Infrastructure Grant it received last year.

Evart was one of 14 communities in the state which received a portion of $7.6 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Downtown Infrastructure Grant. The DIG program provides infrastructure improvement funding to projects located in downtown areas and is intended for low to moderate income communities.

The plans include new signage, LED lighting to replace the current bulbs in the posts along Main Street, sidewalks with American Disability Act tactile strips and an art node. A rain garden, sitting areas and unisex bathrooms will be constructed in a pocket park, and designated bike trails will help connect the downtown area to the Pere Marquette Rail Trail.

The total project cost is estimated to be $692,841, with a local match of $69,285.

The project was expected to begin last summer, but a lack of affordable bids caused a setback, leaving the city to wait, ask the state for additional time to complete construction and re-do the bidding process.

Now, the city has until June 30 to get the task done. Evart City Manager Zack Szakacs said the city received five bids on the pocket park project and five on the Main Street construction. However, about $82,000 is still needed. To combat the lack of funds, Szakacs wrote a letter to the state offering a plan for the city and Downtown Development Authority to carry $16,000 of the responsibility, while requesting the state to provide additional funds to offset the remainder of the cost.

The state has yet to respond to the request.

If the city receives the extra funds, Szakacs said the bid awards will likely go to the lowest bidders during a March city council meeting. Those bidders are Rivertown Contracting Inc. for the pocket park at $216,500 and Crawford Contracting for Main Street improvements at $362,300.

Once bid awards are granted, the project will begin as soon as the ground thaws.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," Szakacs added.