By Rosemary K. Otzman
“If something happened and the sirens could have helped” that would be a problem, said Ron Blank, a member of the Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority, at its regular meeting on July 22.
Blank said even though he doesn’t live in the township, he looks at what happened in Monroe and Dundee with emergency sirens saving lives.
“Emergency Sirens” was No. 14 on the list of things DDA Director Susan Ireland was reporting on at the meeting.
“I have had conversations with Lt. [Charles] Bazzy in the police department and he is concerned about the lack of emergency sirens in Van Buren Township,” she wrote in her report.
“I have shared the information in the DDA files, which includes our interest in partnering to begin emergency siren installation within in the District and ultimately throughout the township.
“Lt. Bazzy is researching additional funding sources and as I have information available, I will update the DDA Board,” Ireland wrote.
Ireland said VBT is the only community in Wayne County that doesn’t have outdoor emergency sirens.
DDA Chairman Jere Dolph recalled that he and DDA member Mark Laginess attended the VBT Public Safety Committee meeting on emergency sirens. [VBT Supervisor Linda Combs dissolved the Public Safety Committee when she came into office.] Dolph said people who were experts in the sirens came in and the leader said VBT was the only one in the county that didn’t have them.
“He asked why and we never received an answer,” Dolph said.
Dolph said Sumpter recently put in the final sirens of their 14.
“How can Sumpter Township have them and we can’t afford them?” Dolph asked.
“Initially, the fire department started working on it,” Ireland recalled, noting now Lt. Bazzy of the police department is handling it.
“I handed him the file,” Ireland said referring to the information the DDA had, including the CDBG census tracts.
She said the DDA could cover the north end of the township.
“This is the township’s responsibility,” Dolph emphasized, adding the DDA could contribute three of the sirens needed.
“The south end is out of luck,” said Supervisor Linda Combs.
Ireland said the sirens cost about $19,000 to $23,000 each.
Dolph recalled the expert said VBT needed 16 units and the concrete poles wered $1,000 each and the wooden poles $500.
“It was undecided at that time how many we need, but not 16,” Dolph said.
“There are calculations,” Blank said.
“It’s the responsibility of the township and each and every citizen,” Dolph said of the safety brought by emergency sirens.
“I’m glad the Public Safety Department is on it,” Dolph said.
Ireland said Lt. Bazzy is working with the planning department to see aobut CDG funding.
“I think a mistake was made, way before Linda [Combs] came,” said Dolph. “Money for the sirens was offered to everyone by Homeland Security and VBT didn’t take it up. I don’t know why.”
Dolph passed out copies of the July 14 Nixle communication sent out by the Sumpter Police Department concerning installation of the final six sirens which makes 14 emergency sirens in the township. They were paid for by a grant through the Department of Homeland Security/Wayne County Emergency Management.
The Nixle alert also included the procedures being followed for the siren use.
Other business at the 50-minute meeting included the following subjects.
Audit of 2013 Fiscal Year
The DDA unanimously accepted the audit for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013.
The DDA approved partnering with the Belleville DDA and the Belleville Central Business Community for the Booville event during the month of October by authorizing up to $2,000 from the Belleville Road Streetscape line item to decorate the triangle at Quirk Road in a harvest theme.
Ireland reported on the Belleville Road and I-94 North Service Drive sidewalks. She said she met with the new owner of the Jacobs property and he was interested in the sidewalk from Quirk Road along the North I-94 Service Drive once she said it wouldn’t cost him anything.
“We might have a problem with Wayne County,” Ireland said. “It’s been harder to get these sidewalk plans through than anything we’ve done.
“Where’s the water going to go? That’s the preliminary question,” Ireland said. “Hopefully they want to resolve that issue.”
Wade Trim engineer David Nummer said he went to talk to the county and he was told people are not allowed to walk on a trail for non-motorized vehicles. He said he imagines they will have to rip out the sidewalks already there.
Nummer said the State of Michigan is funding 10’ wide trails to the Upper Penninsula.
Belleville Road Curbs
Ireland reported on Belleville Road curbs that are a part of the Belleville Corridor Project. Two spots outside the scope have been added to the overall job.
The hanging of signals and cameras on Belleville Road is progressing according to schedule and contractors will stop during the Air Show so as not to interfere with traffic. They currently are working six days a week on the hanging.
Nummer said they are able to complete two mast arms a day. He said the following week, contractors will be working on the three center lanes and then do striping on the outside lanes, especially the overpass on the freeway.
Nummer said the outside lanes will be striped first and then, when it’s done, the inside lanes will be painted.
“The operational dates depend on when we get the controlling signals back from Wayne County,” Nummer said, noting they are about half way done programming the signals.
Dolph said the project is, Good for the township and good for visitors.”
Belleville/Ecorse Rd. Landscaping
Ireland reported landscape plant for the Belleville/Ecorse Road corner have been submitted to Wayne County f or approval, along with the irrigation plans.
Belleville Road Fence
The DDA has received money from the insurance company as a result of a vehicle destroying nine sections of fence on Belleville Road between Harmony Lane and Sunrise. The broken fence pieces have been replaced, along with a single panel that was smashed in, perhaps by a baseball bat, Ireland said.
Banner arms have been removed from a few light poles near the Belleville Bridge and the flag banners put up in the remaining area, Ireland reported. The winds in that area made it not possible to keep banners up there.
Regional Detention Pond
Wade Trim engineer Nummer reported that as a result of a meeting with the Wayne County Drain Office, he is compiling information to submit to it about the proposed regional detention pond.
He said now he is working on sizing the new storm sewer to put in Belleville Road to get to the pond. He said he hopes to fit it in the right of way. Also, he needs to get a cost estimate, with is, “a bit of an unknown.”
He said the current wastewater pipes are 30 inch pipes on the west side of Belleville Road and 21, 24, and 30 inches on the east side. He said 40 inches might be a good size for the pipe to the pond.
“I’ll try to nail that down and bring the cost to the DDA,” Nummer said.
He said Wayne County is very interested in the project, but it will be the first one in the county and, “It’s outside their comfort zone.”
He said there are other regional ponds in Michigan, but it would be the first of its type in Wayne County.
Public Safety Day
The DDA approved an allocation up to $10,000 out of the Public Relations line item to spend on Public Safety Day, which will be held this year on Aug. 23. Ireland said this is a wonderful event and very well attended.
Ireland said Walmart has given the DDA more bicycle helmets to fit on kids. Also, the Metroparks have called the township to ask if there were any community events they could take part in and they were given the Public Safety Day event as a recommendation.
$2.5 million Bond Sale complete
Ireland reported the $2.5 million sale of new tax increment bonds is complete and the DDA is in receipt of the funding for the projects. The interest rate is 3.5% and the term will expire in 2032.
Proceeds from the bond sale will be used to help augment the Belleville Road signalization project, a new traffic signal just south of the southern entrance to Meijer, pedestrian crossings, ADA sidewalk improvements, and road repair.
DDA Coordinator position
Directors Bechtel, Bird, and Laginess have agreed to serve on a subcommittee to assist with laying out the scope of the DDA Coordinator position and to bring a proposal back to the DDA for action. The committee is expected to work with Ireland during the first week of August.
Ireland reported that DuPont has agreed to pay $715.30 to resolve the issue of the poisoned trees in the streetscape, especially in the right of way in front of Applebee’s.
Township attorney Patrick McCauley reviewed the isse and advised her that as the DDA is the “owner” of the four trees, he recommended accepting filling out and submitting all the paperwork required for the claim. Ireland said she sent off the final paperwork for the claim on July 11.
She first filed the claim for four trees the DDA had to replace in the Streetscape in 2012, after they apparently were killed by an application of Imprelis. She met a DuPont representative at the site and the trees were inspected.
At the end of 2012, Ireland was informed the claim was going to be denied. She recently received a correspondence that the claim was being reevaluated and they offered to pay the DDA the $715.30 to resolve the issue.
Ireland reported that VantagePort (formerly called Aerotropolis) has relocated its office to 11895 S. Wayne Road, Suite 101, Romulus, and there will be an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 4.
Ireland said one of the objectives of VantagePort was to establish an outreach program to the business community in the VantagePort region.
“I will be working with VantagePort to reach out to one or more employers so that we can together make a business retention visit and discuss VantagePort,” Ireland reported.
She told the DDA, “I may be working a little out of my area.”
By Rosemary K. Otzman