Morenci wins state grant for parking improvements 03.31.10

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci mayor Keith Pennington knew the city put together a good application package in its bid to win funding for a major parking lot project. He just wasn’t sure if it was good enough.

He learned Thursday that it was just right.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved last week the city’s Notice of Intent for an Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Grant. Approval will bring nearly $600,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds for a parking lot improvement project that includes the demolition of three buildings.

The city agrees to spend nearly $160,000 on the project. The Downtown Development Authority will kick in an additional $4,000 and the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce will give $2,000.

“The completed project will address an expensive maintenance issue that Morenci has been staring at for several years,” Mayor Pennington said. “It should meet the needs of the south commercial district for decades to come while greatly improving the safety and aesthetics of the area.”

The project will rebuild the city’s two parking areas south of Main Street and widen the adjacent Baker Street to meet a standard width. 

Orchard Street from LaGrange to city hall will also be widened from the existing narrow width. To accomplish this, the house on the northeast corner of Orchard and LaGrange plus the old community center building will be demolished.

The proposal also calls for acquisition, but not demolition, of the car wash property for parking, although the business is now in the process of being repaired for re-opening.

On North Street, the proposal would bring parking and two-way traffic in the alley north of Johnson’s Hardware through the demolition of the Dunbar Auction House.

Morenci’s share of the project would be paid with money from the sewer and water and street funds. The project would involve curbing and gutters on the widened roads and a new water line.

Concern was expressed last month about the city’s expenditure of funds, but Pennington pointed out the project would bring a return of more than 400 percent for every dollar invested. City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder told council that it’s very rare to see state funds available for parking lot projects.

The mayor has hopes of future development in areas that will be served by the new parking surfaces. In the initial planning for the grant application, he spoke of his desire to protect Main Street frontage for commercial purposes.

Pennington thanked city council members last month for working quickly to meet the application deadline—a process that required extra work beyond the normal roles of council.

“I appreciate the work of a forward thinking council that is not satisfied with maintaining what Morenci has been, but is actively pursuing what Morenci could become,” the mayor said.

He thanked staff members for the work accomplished and noted that a lot of effort remains for a successful completion of the project.

“Assuming all the paperwork is completed successfully,” he said, “we hope to be ready to award bids for construction in July.”

A tentative schedule calls for the survey work to begin in the next two weeks and the preparation for property acquisition within the month.

Demolition bids would be advertised in early May and details of the renovation plan would be made final within six weeks.

Final grant approval is expected within 60 days, followed by the acceptance of demolition bids and the advertisement for the construction work.

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016