2010-10-24 / Front Page

School access road requires major infrastructure improvements

Council faces many road blocks to funding
BY JEANNE MARCELLO STAFF REPORTER

CHESANING - During their Oct. 19 meeting, the Chesaning Village Council revisited the need to make infrastructure improvements along Fourth Street, as well as other roads within the village.

Chesaning Village Administrator Lisa Hitchcock, who has been with the Village for less than one year, has been reviewing work proposed for Fourth Street. “I think we need to add sanitary sewer,” she told the council, advising them that it didn't make sense to dig up the area twice.

She also recommended the council consider working with one engineer on various water and sewer projects, even though it would disrupt the village's project schedule for Fourth Street. She felt that it would reduce the likelihood of problems in the long run.

Funding those projects has become an enormous challenge for the village.

Mayor Pro-Tem Damion Frasier told the council that he was told there is money set aside that could only be used for water extensions. Part of the Fourth Street project would involve extending the water line to loop the water system, which would improve water reliability.

Frasier advised Hitchcock that the reason the sanitary sewer improvements had not been part of the project is because the two schools (Chesaning Middle School and Chesaning High School) are the two biggest users.

Frasier explained that Fourth Street “serves few people. These are effectively repairs made for the school. We're being forced to spend money on two streets that are not serving many residents.”

FINANCING IMPROVEMENTS

Hitchcock talked about the challenge of financing projects given the economic climate.

Cicalo commented, “Whatever we've been getting, we're getting cut,” referring to the decline of taxable value and revenue sharing in the community, resulting in lower tax revenues for the village.

Talking briefly about a limited number of grants, Hitchcock explained that there are grants based on the theory “If you build it, they will come;” then there are Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that are based on low to moderate income (which the Village does not meet the criteria) or job creation.

Then she turned the council's attention to a loan opportunity. The village would be able to obtain a 25 year loan at a rate of 2 to 2.5 percent.

“We'll never get it that cheap again. Rates are pretty low,” Mayor/Village President Joe Sedlar, Jr. commented.

Hitchcock advised the board that the only way to get federal aid funds is to change the designation of the roads that serve the schools. “The county is not willing to do it,” she said, adding, “North Main is designated as a federal aid road.” It was pointed out that North Main dead ends at Gary Road.

Council members commented about how illogical it was to have North Main Street designated for federal funding.

“Fourth [Street] carries more heavy traffic than North Main,” Sedlar stated.

Examining the projected costs of the road/water/sewer projects before them, the council could not move forward without finding the revenue sources needed.

Councilwoman Julie Schirle commented, “There isn't enough money.”

Frasier commented about the Fourth Street project saying, “It's a road that has to be done. Put it off over and over, the prices get higher and higher.” He talked about figuring out how the village can be more cost effective in other areas so they can afford the road repairs.

Schirle expressed concern that if they simply take out the loan, the payments would tie up village funds for 25 years, which could effectively consume money needed for other projects.

“We're not going to shut down other projects,” Sedlar stated.

Hitchcock added, “Your revenues aren't going up for a while.”

Sedlar suggested tabling discussion until the next meeting adding, “The pump station must be replaced in front of the Middle School. One of these days, the whole thing is just going to cave-in.”

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