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City officials talk 2021 capital outlay improvement projects with city commission

MARQUETTE — During a scheduled work session, the Marquette City Commission along with city officials discussed capital outlay improvement projects on the proposed budget for 2021.

The commission met at City Hall Wednesday evening with no public in attendance, and looked at the 24 capital outlay improvement projects on the list for summer 2021. Prior to the work session, the commission took a bus tour prior to view some of the proposed projects located in downtown Marquette.

“It was really great to drive around and actually see the streets that we are looking to repair for the fiscal year ’21, so this would be for next summer. The one thing I’m most excited about is that Kids Cove Mattson Park playground,” Mayor Jenna Smith said. “I’ve been asking for this since I got on the commission. As a mother of young children, it’s far overdue. It’s real easy to get splinters there. It’s the most popular park in Marquette, we need an accessible playground for people with disabilities and frankly, for young, young children — toddlers and young kids to be able to play on without the danger of them kind of getting hurt. So (I’m) very excited about that.”

Chief Financial Officer Gary Simpson presented the commission with a presentation, detailing the list of projects that made the cut that total $13.6 million and could include $5.5 million in bonds for funding. A few other city officials addressed questions raised by the commission.

Some of the projects include curbing repair and street construction on Front Street, Hewitt Avenue and Shiras Drive.

“When we talk about a street reconstruction project, we aren’t talking about just repaving the street. We’re also talking about replacing the infrastructure underneath the street and that’s where it gets more costly,” Simpson said. “That’s where we’re replacing the water, the sewer and if we have to install sidewalks, we do that at that time as well. So that’s why those tend to be more expensive and why we have to issue bonds for those.”

Here are the 24 proposed improvement projects:

≤ 100 block West Washington streetscape

≤ Sidewalk repair, replacement and extension

≤ Pine Street reconstruction (Prospect Street to Hewitt Avenue)

≤ Kids Cove playground

≤ Curbing repair, replacement and extension

≤ Utility network switch(s) replacement

≤ Street Improvements Maintenance Projects and sanitary sewer lateral replacements

≤ Lake Street Pump Station repair

≤ Front Street reconstruction (Magnetic Street to Fair Avenue)

≤ Hewitt Avenue reconstruction (Pine to Spruce streets)

≤ College Avenue reconstruction (Pine to Spruce streets)

≤ Shiras Drive street upgrade (U.S. 41 to Radisson Drive)

≤ Newberry Street upgrade (Division Street to east end)

≤ Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition computer system replacement

≤ Water Treatment Plant shingle roof replacement

≤ Three police vehicle replacements

≤ Solids Handling Storage Facility

≤ Tourist Park North Access Road

≤ Tourist Park — parking and road improvements

≤ Four Public Works vehicle replacements

≤ Plow/sander truck replacement for Department of Public Works

≤ Mini dump replacement

≤ Two loader replacement

≤ Replacement of retaining wall at cemetery

Though the commission did not move forward with anything during Wednesday’s meeting, it was an outlook of what’s to come.

“It’s a little bit putting the cart before the horse, but we want to let you know these are projects that we plan on putting into the budget going in,” Simpson said.

Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill addressed the question of where the revenue is coming from.

“This is money that is coming out of dedicated funds. It’s not coming out of the general fund; it’s not … having less money going forward due to the coronavirus. These are budgets that we already have the money or the money’s going to be in a process of loans, where we pay off the loan before we take the next one, so that these big projects can get done and take care of important infrastructure and not let things deteriorate. Is that accurate?”

Simpson replied with, “Yeah, that’s accurate. But we will keep an eye on how COVID-19 impacts everything because if it gets pretty dire, then we probably aren’t going to want to issue as much in debt as we’re currently planning. Some of these projects that (are) tied into grants … so if we don’t get the grant, we won’t do the project. We’re still trying to be very fiscally responsible and not try to drive the city into the ground.”

The projects presented at the work session will be revisited during budget hearings in mid to late August, and then September’s public budget hearings will determine the approval of the projects.

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