The Grand Rapids City Council convened for its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Jan. 23 at city hall. The council dispensed with some routine business before opening a public meeting to discuss road construction projects that are planned for the upcoming construction season.
City Engineer Matt Wegwerth outlined the interconnected projects. He said 4th Avenue Northwest would be completely reconstructed between 9th Street Northwest and 13th Street Northwest. The street is currently 40-feet wide, and that the city would be proposing an 8-foot reduction in width to 32-feet.
Reasons Wegwerth cited for narrowing the road included reduction of traffic speeds, increase in the size of adjacent yards/boulevards, and reduction of project costs. The move would also bring the road into compliance with a city ordinance that specifies roads be 32-feet wide where possible. The sidewalk along the street would be removed and replaced. The city plans to replace catch basins and sanitary sewer, install rain gardens where such opportunities present themselves, and replace existing cast iron piping between 9th and 10th Streets Northwest. All services will be replaced with copper, and the sanitary sewer system will be replaced as well, the city engineer reported.
Wegwerth said that 13th Street Northwest would be completely reconstructed from its dead end to Highway 38. The road would be reconstructed to its current width of 28 feet. Catch basins would be installed at the intersection of 4th Avenue and 13th Street to improve drainage. All services and sanitary sewer will be upgraded as well.
Wegwerth also noted that 14th Street Northwest (Legion Lane) would be partially reconstructed from the High School to Highway 38. The city engineering office is proposing a two inch mill and overlay as well as ADA-compliant pedestrian curb ramps.
A 6-foot wide sidewalk will be built on the Fairgrounds Road from 11th Street Northeast to the existing sidewalk on Fairgrounds Road. Curb and gutter will also be installed alongside the sidewalk.
Ninth Street Northeast between 3rd Avenue Northeast and 5th Avenue Northeast will undergo a complete reconstruction along the segment of 3rd Avenue Northeast to Reynolds Street. New sidewalk will be installed on the north side of the road as well from 2nd Avenue Northwest to 5th Avenue Northwest. The road will be rebuilt to its current width of 28 feet said Wegwerth. The water main and sanitary sewer will be replaced as well as all services.
Eighth Avenue Northeast Storm water Improvements will be made to improve runoff to the Mississippi River said Wegwerth. The reason this location was selected for improvement is that it would treat water from several watersheds that drain to the Mississippi River and would remove sediment, phosphorus, nitrogen, heavy metals and hydrocarbons.
Wegwerth said the cumulative cost of the projects would be just over $3.7 million dollars. About $380,000 of the total would come from assessments with most of the remainder coming from PUC, Stormwater Utility and $2,174,000 in general obligation bonding. A $125,000 grant will pay for the 8th Avenue Northeast Storm water improvements. An allocation of $78,000 from ISD 318 will be used to pay for 50 percent of the improvements on Legion Lane.
Wegwerth said that upon completion of the project, each resident living within one-half block of one of the rebuilt roads would receive a special assessment of approximately $32.78 per front foot. Wegwerth added that in cases where the front footage exceeded the depth of the lot, the shorter dimension of the lot would be used to calculate the special assessment.
Several citizens spoke at the meeting. The most contentious issue was the width of 4th Avenue Northwest. Marsha Anderson and Ross Williams both spoke in favor of narrowing the road citing traffic calming reasons.
Roger Ralston and Jerry Pulkrabek both opposed narrowing the street. Both residents didn’t feel that speed is an issue on the street. Both felt that loss of parking space would be regrettable as well.
Citizens with property along Northeast 9th Street also had concerns about building a sidewalk on the steep terrain in that neighborhood. Wegwerth acknowledged their concerns and said he would look into each one on a case by case basis.
At the conclusion of public input, the council deferred to Wegwerth’s preference for 32-foot width on 4th Avenue Northwest and voted to proceed with the project.
In other business, the council:
• Voted to name the community multi-use pavilion “Jerry and Shirley Miner Family Multi-Use Pavilion.” The Miners donated $50,000 to the project.
• Voted to purchase a scoreboard for the multi-use pavilion from Yesco Sign & Lighting in the amount of $11,853.50
• Appointed Bill Zeige to the Active Living Center Advisory Board.