Sidewalk gaps on Scio Church Road and Newport Road in Ann Arbor took a couple of steps closer to being filled as the result of city council action taken at its April 21, 2014 meeting.
Both projects were on the agenda to be handled as special assessments of property owners whose land would benefit from the sidewalks. Action on the special assessment portion of the funding for construction of the Scio Church sidewalk was delayed until the council’s second meeting in May – on May 19. Action on the Newport Road sidewalk special assessment moved forward.
For the sidewalk segment on Newport Road, the council approved a resolution directing the city assessor to prepare a special assessment roll of properties to be assessed. The council took action to set a public hearing on the Newport Road special assessment – for May 5, 2014 at the council’s regular meeting on that date.
The total amount to be special assessed for the Newport Road project is $49,746. But residents of the Newport Creek Site Condominium – who would not ordinarily be assessed, as their property isn’t adjacent to the sidewalk – have volunteered to contribute $10,228 to the project to help offset their neighbors’ assessments. Details of that arrangement are being finalized.
For the Scio Church Road sidewalk project, the total cost is expected to be $365,100. Of that, about $164,000 will be paid from a Federal Surface Transportation grant. The remaining $201,100 will be paid out of the general fund and by the special assessment of just $1,626. It was the size of the total amount of special assessment that led to the postponement. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) argued that the amount to be assessed was not worth the staff time to follow all the bureaucratic procedures involved in the implementation of a special assessment. He also called for 80% of any sidewalk project to be funded through non-special assessed funds.
While other councilmembers were fairly quickly willing to postpone the question until May 19, most did not appear to be inclined to support the idea of waiving the special assessment. Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) cautioned that if the city made the filling of sidewalk gaps contingent on providing support from the general fund, that could stall the city’s program of filling those gaps.
Also its April 21 meeting, the council approved $177,100 of city funds for the construction of the Scio Church sidewalk and for an additional sidewalk on Barton Drive. The Barton Drive sidewalk will also be special assessed – with the associated resolutions to be presented to the council for approval at a future meeting.
Approval of the design contract for the Barton Drive and Scio Church stretches of new sidewalk was approved by the city council at its March 3, 2014 meeting.
By way of additional background, at its July 15, 2013 meeting, the council approved $15,000 for preliminary design of a sidewalk along Barton Drive. And at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting, the council approved $15,000 for preliminary study of a sidewalk to be constructed along Scio Church, west of Seventh Street. On Nov. 7, 2013, the council approved another $35,000 for Scio Church sidewalk design work. The design contract for the Barton Drive and Scio Church stretches of new sidewalk, drew on the previously authorized funding.
The preliminary planning budget of $15,000 for the Newport Road sidewalk gap was approved over a year ago by the council at its Jan. 23, 2013 meeting.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.