By DAVID GREEN
Elected officials often aren’t pleased to face a large audience at a public meeting, but that’s not the case with a proposal facing Morenci city council.
Mayor Keith Pennington wants to see citizens in city hall Feb. 22 when council discusses a proposal to rebuild parking areas on the south side of the business district.
Pennington presented a drawing of the proposal Monday, noting that it’s far from being a final plan.
Scott Merillat of Associated Engineers in Adrian said the drawing was done fairly quickly as a starting point for discussion. He said he wouldn’t be offended by questions and challenges to the plan, and other options are available.
The initial design calls for the lots in front and in back of city hall to be repaved. Curbing would be installed along the entire length of Baker Street and in the alley leading from Main Street to city hall.
Several small “green islands” with shrubbery would be created in both lots.
The narrow width of Baker Street and the north block of Orchard Street could lead to one-way traffic once curbing is installed. Merillat cautioned that the drawing was completed from an aerial photograph and the exact dimensions would not be known until survey work was done.
After viewing a parking project in Tecumseh, a plan to cluster trash Dumpsters was added to the drawing rather than the existing condition of receptacles at the back doors of businesses.
“It would clean up the back of businesses quite a lot,” Pennington said, but added, “How do business owners feel about that? We’d like to know.”
The mayor said council needs to look at proposed changes as a fix for the next 50 years.
Audience member Colleen Leddy said she appreciates the space designated for greenery.
“As a Tree City,” she said, “we should put trees in whenever we do something.”
Pennington noted that the green islands will present a maintenance challenge and he’s seeking ideas about that, also.
Tackling the project depends on the city’s ability to receive a grant through the Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement (ICE) program.
Money will be allocated in the next budget to rebuild the east parking lot. Without spending a lot more money, Pennington said, the west lot could also be addressed if grant money was received.
Funds from the sale of the communications tower property in the industrial park could be directed to the project.
“We’ve never seen a grant quite like this,” said city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder. “It’s very hard and very costly for a community to keep up parking areas.”
The proposal faces time constraints to meet the grant application deadline. Pennington said council is accepting ideas, but they will have to be submitted soon.
PROMEDICA—Council voted to accept a warranty deed for the former Morenci Area Hospital property from ProMedica Health Systems.
The city attorney examined the document and said the city’s environmental concerns were addressed.