Grant funding helping city carry out improvements

August 18, 2010 —

With the city budget having gotten tighter over the last few years, the Hudson city administration has been forced to seek other sources than tax dollars to carry out some of the needed improvements in the city.

City Manager Steve Hartsel said that the city just closed out the facade grants for downtown street improvements carried out in 2008 and 2009. This represents about $150,000 in Federal funds, Hartsel said.

The city is nearing the end of the water tower infrastructure project, the new water tower at the Industrial Park and supporting structure. The federal government through the Community Development Block Grants, contributed $1,100,000 to to the project; local matching funds were about $300,000. The project was delayed by problems with the contractor, so as a result the final settlement with the state came later than expected.

The city just finished the South Munson Highway improvement project, which involved the repaving of the street from M-34 south to the city limits. Since the project was mostly to benefit the Industrial Park, the park picked up the matching funds of the 80-20 grant, with the Michigan Department of Transportation picking up the larger share. The project also solved a long-standing storm water drainage problem.

Finishing the South Munson Highway project as an “all season” road also meant that after over twenty years in existence, the Industrial Park can now be certified as a state-certified insustrial park.

The next project the city is looking at is the Jackson Street lift station improvement. The city plans to open bids on the project on August 24. The money comes from a federal “Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement Grant (ICE).” That should be done by the end of the year and hopefully by the end of October, Hartsel says. The project may involve the closure of Jackson Street for a few days at some point. It will also involve re-lining of the sewage line between Jackson and West Streets, a possible source of the storm water infiltration problem the city has wrestled with for many years.

An important priority for the city is rebuilding local streets, some of which are getting to be in very bad shape. Earlier this year the city applied for an “ICE” grant to repave Pleasant Street, which is regarded by some as the worst street in the city. However, the grant application was not approved at the state level. The city did get the Jackson Street Lift Station Grant, and Hartsel hopes that the grant will be approved the next time around. When approved, the Pleasant Street project will involve a complete rebuilding of the street, not just a simple repaving.

“Using just income tax money in the current budget status would make it impossible to do something like Pleasant Street on our own,” Hartsel explained. “If we can get a grant where we only have to come up with $100,000 or $150,000 on an $800,000 project, then it makes a lot of sense to try to do it that way.”

The city is also looking for a Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality (CMAQ) grant for building a footbridge on the Jim Findlay trail near McKenzie Street. The grant has been approved at the state level and the city is hopeful of approval of federal level approval, which would mean about $100,000 for the project.

The city just also submitted a requestion to Consumer’s Energy for a $2,250 grant for tree planting at the east end of the trail.

This week, the city submitted a Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) “Category A” grant to the state for the rehabilition of Steger Industrial Drive in the Industrial Park. The grant is anticipated to be for at least a quarter million dollars to rebuild the road that has taken considerable damage from the traffic level it has sustained since it was built back in the 1990s.

The city also this week is preparing to submit another grant application for a “Machinery and Equipment Grant” for $180,000 to give a tax credit to Kecy Corporation to support job creation. This should help stimulate the development of thirty jobs.

The city is in the early stages of developing a new grant application for a second facade redevelopment program. This grant will be handled through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Hartsel said this is a much more enhanced project than the previous grant, and the possibility exists of the whole downtown being rehabilitated after several rounds of these grants.

The final project the city is currently working on is a Rental Rehabilitation Grant, a federal CDBG program. This will pay three quarters of the costs of refurbishing rental units in the downtown area. The program is still under development, and will be publicized and interest solicited as the program is developed.

In spite of the financial picture for the city being tight but stable, there is progress toward many different capital improvements. “Things are getting better,” Hartsel said. “We’re getting new jobs, and we may have turned the corner.”