Morenci wins state grant for parking improvements 03.31.10

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.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.