By Rosemary K. Otzman
The Van Buren Township Board of Trustees approved paying Wade Trim engineers a lump sum of $5,000 to do the design and bidding work for a proposed resurfacing of part of the township hall parking lot.
At its March 19 meeting, the board voted 6-1 to approve the agreement, with Trustee Reggie Miller voting no.
Trustee Miller questioned paying the engineers $5,000 for design work for just Phase I of the parking lot paving, since there will be other phases before it’s done and possibly $5,000 each or more for each future phase design.
Phase I will begin east of the main entrance at the handicapped parking and stretch around the front of the township hall to the public safety side and Quirk Road entrance.
DPW Director Tom MacDonald said this is the worst part of the parking lot and sees the most public visitors.
He said the plan is to grind up the existing base and add 2-3 inches of new pavement, addressing the curbs and sidewalks.
This would cost about $100,000 and for the $5,000 lump sum, Wade Trim would provide the project plan and specifications and go through the bidding process, evaluate the bids and give a recommendation. This does not include project oversight.
MacDonald said this is to be done during the hottest, driest part of the summer, maybe July, and the ground-up material could be used to fill in parts of the base that need repair.
Dave Nummer of Wade Trim said the ground-up pavement gravel makes a nice base for the new pavement. It’s a pretty quick process and reduces the cost 30%, Nummer said.
MacDonald said the whole project is expected to be taken care of in two more phases, when money is available.
The whole parking lot project was estimated at about $400,000, MacDonald said.
“It’s an enormous price to do the parking lot in one piece,” said Clerk Leon Wright. “We can’t do it all at once and it’s not going to get any better. We can’t afford to jeopardize the safety of anyone.”
MacDonald said they planned to leverage the money the township has available and do the highest priority first.
He said if it was done all in one season, it still would have to be phased to keep the township hall open.
MacDonald said if the board wants to design the entire project now, he could go back to Wade Trim and get a proposal on the whole project.
Trustee Jeff Jahr said they have to keep this in perspective. The board is not approving this paving to go forward, just the design work, which is 5% of the anticipated cost. He said once the design is done, the board will decide if it wants to go forward and seek bids.
Trustee Phil Hart asked MacDonald if he asked Nummer to take an overall look at the parking lot.
“What’s being designed? Take out the old driveway and put in the new,” said Trustee Hart, adding he was concerned there’s no oversight. “Why can’t Dave come up with one plan?”
“We have to get this done this year with the amount we had budgeted,” MacDonald said. “I kind of defined what it would cost to design this area.” MacDonald said Nummer basically responded to his request.
John Delaney stated from the audience that it would cost $30,000 if there were six phases. He compared this to the Bemis Road water line 11 months ago that had to come back for more design costs.
“It’s not my intention to say it is misspent,” said Trustee Miller, clarifying her concerns.
MacDonald said the consultant responded to the request he made and the board can decide whether to accept the proposal or request a different proposal. He said Wade Trim is willing to do it either way.
Trustee Jahr said if the board spends $20,000 on engineering and the work isn’t going to be done for 3-4 years, that would take money away from the $100,000 project now.
Supervisor Combs said she wants to get going on the part the township has money for and it’s worse at the police department and drive onto Quirk Road.
The board then voted 6-1 to approve the $5,000 proposal.
At the work/study session on March 18, John Delaney also questioned the entrance to township hall that is not lighted well.
“That’s been a pet peeve of mine,” agreed Supervisor Linda Combs. She said the Bianco Bus for senior trips took out the landscaping at the entrance twice since the bus is too big to make the turn.
Supervisor Combs said she has made a note for street lights and signage for the entrance.
Treasurer Sharry Budd said she and others went out and looked at it and found there is a light on each side of the entrance, but it needs higher wattage. She suggested lights along the drive and maybe reflective tape.
In other business at the one-hour, March 19 regular meeting, the board:
• Heard Supervisor Combs announce that Director MacDonald intends to retire in April. Combs said they wish him well in his retirement and they want him to know he is appreciated. MacDonald thanked the board for the confidence it has shown in him and he thanked the citizens of the township for their support. He said he has met a lot of great people during his time at VBT. He told the Independent that April 5 is his last day;
• Accepted the low bid for publishing legal notices, with Supervisor Combs and Treasurer Budd voting no. The Independent bid $2.50 per column inch, with other bids: $4.25 from the Journal/Eagle, $4.50 from The View, and $5 from the Belleville Lake Current. There was an hour’s worth of lively discussion about the decision at the work/study session, with Combs noting at that time she would vote against the Independent because she had compiled a whole list of complaints about the paper. The board agreed that they were not endorsing the low bidder but only agreeing to have their legal notices published in its pages. Delaney congratulated the board at the regular meeting for looking at the money and, that “After 24 hours, everybody calmed down”; and
• Unanimously approved the renewal of the 2013 Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Belleville for Emergency Dispatch and Lockup Services at a cost of $145,600, the same price as last year. This is the eighth year providing the services to the city and Interim Director Greg Laurain said there have been incremental increases over the years. At the work/study session Budd said there have been increases of 6% and 5% and this is the first year the cost remained the same. Budd said the prior public safety director had already talked to the city and said it would cover it. Supervisor Combs said the former director gave the figure to her and said it would cover it before he left and she said she should have checked. She said they will do due diligence before the next contract comes up. “We don’t want another year to go by without an increase,” said Trustee Jahr. “Stay on top of this, Greg.” Trustee Brenda McClanahan said, “We want to make sure we’re not absorbing someone else’s costs to the detriment of our department.”
After the VBT Board’s work/study session on March 18, the board went into closed-door session to discuss a proposal from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), according to township attorney Ethan Vinson. He said the board and union recently finalized the new contract, but the union had another proposal to present.
By Rosemary K. Otzman