Ann Arbor Sidewalk Projects Get Action

Three sidewalk projects were the topic of different agenda items at the Ann Arbor city council’s May 19, 2014 meeting: Barton Road, Scio Church and Newport Road.

A public hearing on the Newport Road sidewalk special assessment, which started on May 5, continued at the council’s May 19 meeting. For the sidewalk segment on Newport Road, the council had approved at its April 21, 2014 meeting a resolution directing the city assessor to prepare a special assessment roll of properties to be assessed.

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.

Several residents spoke at the May 5 public hearing, opposing the special assessment. However, on May 19, Eric Preisner, representing the Riverwood subdivision homeowners association, told the council that as a group, they’re in support of the proposal. The affirmative vote was 75% in favor, he said.


Newport Road sidewalk stretch.

Resolutions on the May 19 agenda about a Scio Church Road sidewalk project had been postponed from council’s April 21, 2014 meeting. On May 19 the council approved both resolutions – to set the assessment roll and set a public hearing (to be held June 16) for the special assessment.

For the Scio Church 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 city’s 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 earlier postponement. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) argued at the April 21 meeting that the amount to be assessed was not worth the staff time to follow all the bureaucratic procedures involved in implementing the special assessment. He also called for 80% of any sidewalk project to be funded through non-special assessed funds.

Purple indicates stretches of Scio Church Road where no sidewalk exists.

Purple indicates stretches of Scio Church Road where no sidewalk exists.

Also approved at the May 19 meeting were resolutions on the Barton Drive special assessment sidewalk project – to set the assessment roll and a public hearing (to be held on June 16). The sidewalk to be special assessed was part of action taken at the council’s April 21 meeting: The council approved $177,100 of city funds for the construction of the Scio Church Road sidewalk and for an additional sidewalk on Barton Drive.

The cost of the Barton Drive sidewalk has been calculated to be $80,606. Of that, about $36,000 will be paid from federal surface transportation funds. Of the remaining $44,606, the city’s general fund would pay $42,626, leaving just $1,980 to be paid through the special assessment.

Location of proposed Barton Drive sidewalk.

Location of proposed Barton Drive sidewalk.

By way of additional background, approval of the design contract for the Barton Drive and Scio Church Road stretches of new sidewalk had been approved by the city council at its March 3, 2014 meeting.

And at its July 15, 2013 meeting, the council had approved $15,000 for preliminary design of a sidewalk along Barton Drive. Even earlier – 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.