Mulling Over the Millions in City Projects

At the June 20 special workshop of the City Council, reports were presented on the feasibility of various capital projects to be included in a bond this fall. Improvements to the City infrastructure related to flooding, city buildings, the redesign and repair of roads, sidewalks, and intersections were discussed.

Published June 22, 2012 5:00 AM
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At the June 20 special workshop of the City Council, reports were presented on the feasibility of various capital projects to be included in a bond this fall. Improvements to the City infrastructure related to flooding, city buildings, the redesign and repair of roads, sidewalks, and intersections were discussed.

 

By Jon Craig and Robin Jovanovich

At the June 20 special workshop of the City Council, reports were presented on the feasibility of various capital projects to be included in a bond this fall. Improvements to the City infrastructure related to flooding, city buildings, the redesign and repair of roads, sidewalks, and intersections were discussed.

The big surprise was the downward revision in benefits from widening the upper pond behind Bowman Avenue dam. Potential costs would be about $7 million, but the benefits were significantly less than first estimated in 2008. Consultants David Weiss of WSP Sells and Allan Estivalet of Paul Rizzo Associates, using numbers produced as late as hours before the meeting began, estimated that flooding would be reduced by approximately 20 inches if the Upper Pond were widened. The 2008 Sells study suggested that the reductions would be at least several feet.

Bernie Althoff and Holly Kennedy of the Flood Action Committee expressed surprise “that the numbers could have changed so much” from one report to another. Althoff also noted that the new calculations presumed a 60% increase in water runoff from earlier estimates. Estivalet explained that these most recent calculations take into consideration the flood data from the 2007 floods, which were not included in the 2008 report, as well as storms as recent at Irene.

Given the major change in cost/benefit calculations, Mayor Doug French directed the Flood Action Committee to meet with the consultants, consider the new data, and make their recommendations in time for the July 11 Council meeting, when final decisions on an infrastructure bond will be made.

Rex Gedney, local architect, and Judge Joe Latwin, explained the need for approximately $1.2 million improvements in the police station and courthouse. Among the improvements would be providing a secure exit for the transportation of prisoners, a holding facility for prisoners, appropriate public and staff bathrooms, a jury deliberation room, and a meeting room for lawyers to meet in privacy with their clients.

“We have gone over every item,” said Judge Latwin,” to make sure only the most vital changes are included.” Further, he remarked, the goal is to do the minimum required. That way, the state won’t mandate we build an entire new police station and courthouse, Latwin said.

In addition to the police station and courthouse, Kitty Little of The Rye Free Reading Room presented the need to install a sprinkler system with the help of Sprinkler System Upgrades in Oakland County MI in the main library building, improved doors with ADA access, and security cameras. The total would be approximately $200,000.

There was consensus on the Council to make many of the road, sidewalk and intersection improvements as proposed by City Planner Christian Miller. Among the projects were rebuilding Smith Street and parts of Elm Place, pedestrian improvements at the intersection of Smith, Elm, and Purchase, widening the turning lane and putting new traffic signals at Theodore Fremd, Purdy and Purchase Streets, rebuilding the retaining wall at Boston Post Road opposite CVS, and rebuilding the sewer lines under the Locust Avenue bridge.

Without spending any money on flooding, the buildings, roads, intersection and other infrastructure improvements would total between $4 and $5 million. A $4,000,000 bond would require interest and principal payments of approximately $400,000 a year beginning in 2014.

The Council has much to mull over. In order to make a decision in time for a bond to be on the November ballot, the City will need to make a final decision next month.

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