By DAVID GREEN
Progress continues toward obtaining a $1.17 million state grant to complete the road through Morenci’s industrial park. Although the process didn’t proceed as smoothly as first anticipated, Morenci mayor Keith Pennington remains positive.
City council voted Monday to send a Notice of Intent to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Pennington is looking for approval by the end of April.
The letter of intent, in effect, seeks approval from the state development corporation to resume work on the road project and to begin spending money on additional design work.
City council voted Monday to proceed with engineering work—a process that was halted two years ago.
Building a north-south road through the park from Main Street to the existing Skyline Drive was included in the Palm Plastics expansion project in 2008. The national economic downturn brought the expansion to a halt in Morenci and the road project was shelved.
More than $10,000 was spent on the initial design work before the project was put on hold. Council voted Monday to authorize the use of $7,000 to continue the work. The money comes from a fund established for the project in 2008. Associated Engineers of Adrian will continue where they left off from the earlier work.
The engineering work will make the project “shovel ready,” councilor Greg Braun said, should final approval come from the state. The city’s goal is to complete the project this year.
Braun learned that the money spent on design work will be considered a portion of the city’s $100,000 match for the project. The design fund contains $14,000.
A large portion of the city’s share will come from the sewer fund.
SPECIAL PROJECTS—Mayor Pennington has spoken to several council members about researching long-term projects.
“These all require a lot of background research,” he said.
Councilors would work with city administrator-clerk Renée Schroeder and eventually bring the research to the committee level. The work goes beyond the usual call of duty, he said, and he appreciates the effort.
At this point, Joe Varga has agreed to work on the city’s five-year plan; to investigate the cost of bringing a fiber optics connection to the city; explore the creation of a Wi-Fi (wireless internet connection) hotspot downtown; and look into the creation of a park events board.
Tracy Schell will continue work toward construction of an electrical substation at the industrial park, and she will survey surrounding communities in regard to employee compensation and taxation.
Leasa Slocum will explore establishing a farmer’s market and will join others on the substation and recreation plan projects.
Pennington has identified 14 projects in all to explore.