Ypsilanti rejects township assistance for resurfacing Grove Road
The Ypsilanti City Council rejected an Ypsilanti Township proposal to temporarily fix a rough stretch of South Grove Road running through the municipalities’ border.
In the proposal, the township would have loaned the city money from a shared fund to pay to resurface the road. The resurfacing would have been a temporary fix, but a majority of City Council was only interested in a total rebuild of the road.
Ypsilanti Township residents have regularly complained to Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo about the condition of the road, which is adjacent to the Gault Village Shopping Plaza near the I-94 Service Drive. They say it has been in disrepair for more than a decade.
The border between the township and 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.
Stan Kirton, director of Ypsilanti's Department of Public Works, previously said the city doesn’t have the funds to do the estimated $600,000 road reconstruction. A rebuild is estimated to last 10 to 20 years, while the resurfacing is estimated to last two to three years.
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.
Stumbo proposed the township loan the city $60,000 from the Joint Ypsilanti Recreation Organization fund for a two-inch overlay, and the city would have repaid the township over a three to five year period.
But after city officials ran the plans past their own engineers, an additional $40,000 to $50,000 in costs were added to that figure, bringing the project total to more than $100,000.
Council Member Brian Robb said he wasn’t interested in a temporary fix.
“In three years, when this falls apart, we’re going to look like idiots because we paved a road that fell apart,” he said. “If we’re going to do this, we need to do it right.”
But the project’s proponents said the city doesn’t end up paying more by opting for the cheaper project. Either way, the city pays the same average amount annually for the road’s estimated life, Stumbo said.
Council Member Lois Richardson supported resurfacing the road.
“I was on that road on Sunday and I would hate to have drive it in the winter or after winter while waiting on funds to completely rebuild it,” she said. “I would suggest to everyone on council; if you haven’t been on the road in the last two to three weeks, go.”
Following the vote, she said she was ashamed of the city.
“I think we missed an opportunity,” she said. “I think we had a hand reached out to us from the township and we slapped it back into their face. That’s something this council will be held accountable for for a long time.”
Council Member Mike Bodary agreed.
“We have missed an opportunity to make improvements to people’s lives,” he said. “We could have made a difference for an estimated three years, and it could have lasted longer. I think we are doing a disservice to our neighbors.”
Stumbo asked council to reconsider during public comment at the end of the meeting.
Mayor Paul Schreiber said the vote wasn’t easy.
“I would like to see it fixed, but we have to be good stewards of our finances,” he said. “And the length of time the road was going to be good wasn't going to be long enough.”
But he added that the vote was close and suggested City Manager Ed Koryzno could possibly bring forth a new proposal.
"For three years we have asked for this improvement from the mayor and city manager," Stumbo said. "This year it was stated they probably can't make the improvement until 2015. That is seven years total delay and the offer to pay for the overlay, which is often used method prior to total reconstruction, is a solution. There was no interest in terms of pay back. It could have been three to ten years and terms were up to the council. What more can we legally do? Nothing.
"My sincere apologies to residents and business owners who utilize this road for not being able to make the improvement a reality this year."