The Zimmerman City Council meeting on Sept. 9 included an open forum-style open house on the 2020 street project in the Morrison Addition area, which resulted in a lively discussion.

Zimmerman City Engineer Kevin Bittner gave a detailed presentation on the 2020 improvement project. He said most water mains in the project area were installed in the 1970s with old plastic pipes that have deteriorated and now need to be replaced.

The total cost of the project will be $1.3 million, with some funds to be recouped from state aid. City policy also allows for an assessment to affected property owners at 30%, based on front-footage along the street, which will be approximately $84 per foot.  

A dozen or so residents who came for 2020 improvement project forum made known their concerns. Residents said they seldom see the parking spots used on Second and Third Streets.

A resident who frequently drives Second Street West and Third Avenue South said he never sees anyone parking along these streets, except at the American Legion post.

One resident asked, “Who decides the assessment amount?”

Bittner said the city determines the rate. The city allows a 10-year assessment period for pay-off; residents can pay all of the assessment up front, or some of it, or can pay the assessment over the 10-year period.

A resident who lives on a corner lot wondered about his high assessment since he is on a fixed income, adding, “It will be a real hardship for me.”  

Several residents expressed concerns that widening sidewalks will mean that they will lose some of their yards due to the improvements. Both Bittner and City Administrator Randy Piasecki noted that residents are not technically losing property since the affected areas are part of the city’s right of way.  

“The city is looking to the future to generally improve both traffic and pedestrian safety,” Piasecki said.

Several homeowners strongly disagreed with the position that these improvements will be beneficial, based on concerns with traffic speed, parking allocations and assessment costs to affected residents.

Council Member Sheldon Shepard asked how long the alleyway gravel lasts before developing potholes.  

Keith Koehler, from the Public Works Department, said it depends on various factors and weather conditions, but he would “like to see all the alleys paved.”  

Bittner added that there are drainage concerns for the alleys, which will be addressed in the final design phase.

Council Member Linda Frederick said she will also be affected by the improvements and empathized with the other affected homeowners. She said the improvements will mean that the sidewalk will be right by her front door.  

Mayor Nick Stay proposed that the work should proceed, but that the city should consider the alley improvements be done at the city’s expense rather than an assessment.  

The motion passed 4-0. Frederick abstained from the vote.

Council announcements

In other council matters, Maloney said that the Zimmerman Fire Department open house and dance was a great success and raised more than $600. He specifically thanked the mayor for his help and support.

Maloney also mentioned a baseball game challenge at Lions Park in Livonia Township on Sept. 14. Donations and help are welcome. Free food will be offered.

A “Passing the Bread” food distribution event will be held on Sept. 28 from 9-11 a.m. at UMA Precision Machining. Anyone having proof of residence in ZIP codes 55390 and 55371 can participate.

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