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Posted on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Over some objection, City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township push forward Grove Road rebuild

By Tom Perkins

A crumbling section of Grove Road will be rebuilt a year early.

Through an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, the township will advance funds to complete the project in 2013 instead of 2014 as originally planned.

The Ypsilanti City Council approved the intergovernmental agreement by a 5-1 vote at its special meeting Monday evening .

But there was some opposition on City Council to reaching an agreement on the road with Ypsilanti Township as the issue has been a point of contention between the two governments in the past.


Tom Perkins | For

The road lies in the City of Ypsilanti but is mainly used by Ypsilanti Township residents because no city residents live nearby. The city has prioritized other projects and previously rejected an Ypsilanti Township proposal to loan the city money from a shared fund to pay to temporarily resurface the road.

The project is estimated to cost $571,000, of which the city is responsible for $219,000 and the federal government will pay for $352,000. Under the new agreement, which is similar to the formation of an authority, Ypsilanti Township will pay that $352,000 and be repaid as federal dollars come in in 2014.

The city already has design plans around 40 percent complete.

Council Member Brian Robb, who cast the lone vote against the agreement, questioned why the city wouldn’t use its reserves to pay for the project, then repay itself when federal dollars arrive.

“We’re paying for this with our dignity and our pride,” Robb said, contending that the agreement looks like a loan from a neighbor with which the city has an adversarial relationship. “That screws us over politically ... and it’s a disaster.”

He said after the meeting that he didn't oppose pulling the project forward to 2013, but he wanted the city to pay for it.

"The city manager proposed a budget two weeks ago that had us spending $11 million of fund balance in the next five years. There is no need to borrow money for this project. We should be pre-funding it ourselves," Robb said.

Council Member Pete Murdock also said he was disappointed in the way City Council handled the project and would have preferred to pay for it with city funds, but he ultimately voted in favor of the proposal.

City Manager Ralph Lange, who served as director of the Monroe County Road Commission, said the the project was out of sync with the city’s budget cycle and the arrangement made sense.

Throughout the discussion, he offered several reasons why an intergovernmental agreement was a positive for both governments.

“I think there’s very little downside. I think it’s kind of an olive branch to the neighborhood, and we’re doing them a favor that doesn’t hurt us,” Lange said. “I try to do that as long as it doesn’t disadvantage the city. There’s no downside that I can tell and there are a lot of small upsides.”

Completing the rebuild a year earlier would also likely keep down the cost of materials, which fluctuate and will likely rise, Lange said. He added that it will also save Department of Public Works the hassle and cost of spot patching the road and routine maintenance.

He also stressed that it is a total rebuild and more permanent solution than the proposal council rejected in October. The proposal called for a temporary fix, but a majority of City Council was only interested in a total rebuild of the road.

Council Member Mike Bodary said he supported the idea because it was a permanent solution and the road's condition was driving township residents to conduct business in Belleville and elsewhere.

“The constant comments about the road is an open sore that has been going on for some time,” he said. “It affects commerce between the township and city … because they don’t feel like coming to Ypsilanti to trade and do business.

“I don’t see any black eye on the city for letting this go.”

The border between the township and the city runs down Emerick Road, which dead-ends at a southwest angle into Grove. The area south and east of Emerick and Grove is the township. A small slice of land that includes the road north and west of Emerick belongs to the city.

The Washtenaw County Road Commission repaved the road on the township’s side several years ago. During that project, it slimmed the township’s section of the road from four lanes to two while adding bike lanes. Kirton previously said that has caused extra stress on the city’s side.

Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson said the city needed to move forward with the plan.

“It’s an olive branch,” she said. “You don’t know how much flak I caught from city and township people (after council rejected the October 2011 proposal),” she said. “I think we need to accept it, get the road done, and when the feds give us some money we give it to the township and not look at it as a loan.”

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for To reach the news desk, email or call 734-623-2530.

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Sun, Nov 18, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

So the city council members are mad because the Township is paying to fix a city road by loaning them the money interest free???? Does the township have such an excess of funds that we can afford to lend them to a municipality that is struggling to pay already existing loans? Why does the township pay for a recreational department that provides service to city residents at no cost to the city? Why did the township donate money to keep Rutherford Pool running when City council paid nothing for its own pool? Why does Riverside Arts come to the Township for funding its renovations? Why do we allow our firefighters to respond to city fires and say nothing when the city reduces its fire personnel so drastically that they can't adequately reciprocate? Why do Township elected officials think it is a good idea to have its taxpayers pay more, collectively, for interurban buses than city residents? If we have such an excess of revenue in the township, why don't we lower the millage and provide more economically sound service to TOWNSHIP residents?

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

I am SO excited about this! I live out this way and this stretch of road is pure awful. I've been driving before and upon reaching this stretch have had the driver in front of me instantly break and slow almost to a stop to go over all of these pot holes. So I'm always worried about rear ending someone or someone rear ending me.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

I don't do Grove Road. I do the highway. Much safer. Is that strip mall torn down yet?


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

All this stuff about so called "pride" is childish and worth of an adult governing body. Such nonsense!


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Thank you for making this happen Ypsilanti Township!!!


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

THANK YOU! much needed repair, my muffler fell off driving on that darn road!


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

This is great news. I won't have to worry about how to avoid it once it's done.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

i think those that object to it should be forced to drive it, maybe go out of their way, to drive it everyday... that road needed replacement YEARS ago.


Tue, Nov 13, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

The City might say "Thank You" Ypsilanti Township! I'm sure all residents of both the City and the Township say "thank you"! I'm sure Midas Muffler and those that repair cars might not feel the same way, this road is just terribly hard on vehicles, I know most people go out of their way to avoid this section. By the way thanks Ypsilanti Township for providing the city a short term "free loan", someone does care!