By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – The gift of a gazebo for Young Patriots Park that would require city expenditures for associated costs became a point of contention during a July 11 City Council study session.
Resident Michael Ceaser Jr. has offered to donate $25,000 toward the cost of a replacement shelter for Young Patriots Park, to replace the current primary shelter, which city officials said is in poor condition and due for either replacement or significant repairs.
The city would need to demolish the existing pavilion, provide grading, sidewalks, steps, foundations and footings.
A site plan and budget developed by C.E. Raines Co. of Riverview estimated pavilion installation cost at $163,425, of which $30,250 was for optional lighting and electrical, benches and trash containers.
City Manager Doug Drysdale said that without the optional items, and if the city used the Department of Public Works to demolish the existing pavilion, for an estimated $9,000 savings from the budgeted amount, and with Cesar’s $25,000 donation, the city’s share of the expense decreases to about $99,175.
Mayor Andrew Swift said the city recently received $275,000 in dividend distributions from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority that is not earmarked for any other budget items, and could be used to pay for the city’s portion of the infrastructure work needed to use the gazebo donation.
Councilman James Trombley said he would rather forgo the Ceaser donation and use the MMRMA windfall to pay for seal coating asphalt roads in the city.
“You’ve done a number of streets that are asphalt,” Trombley said. “We haven’t seal coated any of those. If we don’t seal coat those, they are going to go down the tubes in another year. They are already cracking.”
Trombley said he would rather repair and refurbish the existing shelter. He also brought up the need for sidewalk money.
“I am more of a guy of needs and not wants,” he said. “I am really hesitant about spending any of that $275,000 until I get some kind of a commitment for this seal-coating.”
He said the five streets needing sealing are Riverview, Matthews, Electric, Valleyview and Krause.
Trombley said he commends Ceaser, but he feels road are more of a priority.
Swift said sidewalks are a separate issue.
“I am looking at this as one time money,” Swift said, referring to Ceaser’s offer. “Sidewalks are going to be money that we are going to have to spend every year, whatever policy we come up with to participate in the cost (of the new shelter).”
“Not to throw him under the bus, but I have brought this up to the city manager that we need to take care of our infrastructure and what we’ve got before we go out there and get those ‘wants,’” Trombley said. “If I tell a resident that I’ve got to replace this street again, but I put up a new whatever you want to call it, you know what they are going to tell me? ‘Are you kidding me?’”
Swift said any project could be chosen and compared to in that manner.
Councilman Thomas Coffey asked C.E. Raines engineer Souheil Sabak if the county had sealed the blacktop on Fort Street south of Sibley Road. Sabak said it hadn’t, but sealing it would only buy the county two or three extra years of road life.
Councilman Elmer Trombley said that “up north” the roads are seal-coated. “Those black top roads up there they seem to just stay good forever,” he said.
Swift said he agrees with what James Trombley said, but the city needs to take care of its parks, too.
“I think this is the primo spot,” Swift said, “and that shelter there is…”
“But it’s a shelter,” James Trombley interrupted, “that nobody ever uses anyway. We are using these roads every day. I am not against this project, but I think we have to set our priorities first.”
Sabak said he would get a cost figure to seal Electric, Krause, Matthews, Riverview and Valleyview.
Drysdale said there is money in the city’s Act 51 allocation for seal coating. He said there is $40,000 in the city’s Act 51 account, noting that the city is only 11 days into its fiscal year.
Act 51 governs the distribution of revenue from the Michigan constitution’s amendment of 1963 that states taxes on motor vehicle fuels shall be used for transportation services.
“We just got this money and it is so hot in our pocket, we have to get it out of our pocket and spend it,” James Trombley said.
“We didn’t have any of this discussion when we were donating money to other projects,” Swift said. “We do have to invest in the parks, too.”
Swift continued despite several interruptions from James Trombley, reiterating that Drysdale said there was Act 51 money to seal-coat the roads.
Councilman Bill Towle suggested that sealing be included when bidding and funding any future road projects.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at email@example.com.)