Ypsilanti Township approves Grove Road reconstruction plan with response to city's hesitation
The Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees has approved an intergovernmental partnership with the city of Ypsilanti that will allow the reconstruction of Grove Road to move forward in 2013 instead of 2014.
The road on the city of Ypsilanti side of the border between the two municipalities has been crumbling for several years and is a point of contention between the two governments.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
In the new agreement, which legally functions almost like an authority, Ypsilanti Township will advance funds to the city of Ypsilanti to complete the project in the spring of 2013 instead of 2014.
The Ypsilanti City Council approved the measure by a 5-1 vote at its Nov. 12 meeting and the Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved the measure at a Nov. 20 special meeting.
Ypsilanti City Council Member Brian Robb was the lone no vote, and there was some discussion among city officials over whether the city should be pulling money out of its reserves instead of accepting money from the township.
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, Ypsilanti Township will pay that $352,000 and be repaid as federal dollars come in in 2014.
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.
Robb said at the meeting the city was “paying for this with our dignity and our pride” and labeled the deal a “disaster” and said it “screwed over” city council politically.
Ypsilanti Township Attorney Doug Winters took issue with Robb’s comments. He questioned why Robb was not thanking the township after it offered to advance $352,000 to complete a project residents in both communities have repeatedly requested be quickly completed.
He said the comments were "irresponsible and crude."
City of Ypsilanti Manager Ralph Lange and Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson felt differently from Robb and characterized the move as an “olive branch.”
Supporters of the plan have highlighted that it will save the city money because material costs will be lower and it will help the two municipalities when the state considers the level of state-shared revenue. The state gives more money to municipalities that work together on projects.
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. City Department of Public Works Director Stan Kirton previously said that has caused extra stress on the city’s side.
"I think for residents who travel the road, this is a huge deal," Ypsilanti Township Clerk Karen Roe said. "People have been complaining for several years and it's nice to know this will be done in 2013 and help people save their cars from wear and tear."
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.