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City of Ishpeming receives crucial funding for projects

ISHPEMING – It was a very good week for the city of Ishpeming, it was awarded two grants totalling nearly $2.5 million toward toward resident services.

It will net $1.9 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to build a new senior center and $250,000 for water meter and radio read upgrades.

The CDBG funds, administered by the Michigan Strategic Fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will make way for the city to build a new multi-purpose facility at 121 Greenwood St., and demolish the old structure, which was condemned in September.

“The real challenge is that we took an old facility, that was really a pole barn, cold storage, turned it into a facility that was able to support a senior community and provide programs and then that facility ended up condemned and uninhabitable,” Ishpeming City Manager Craig Cugini said. “They found a temporary lease solution to their problem, but there is already somebody planning to lease behind them so it’s been really critical that the commission on aging is really concerned that they are going to be without a lease in the near future because their program is going to terminate and their lease won’t be renewable because somebody else has leased the space. And so timing is just fantastic that this came through. We think it’s going to be shovel ready real soon.”

The city will own the facility, Cugini said, but will lease it to the Ishpeming Commission on the Aging for $1 per year. He said the city and the commission have agreed to dedicate funds annually to building maintenance.

Over the past five years, the city and the commission have been planning for facility improvements to address challenges like access, limited parking and shared interior spaces in the city, according to a statement released Thursday.

“Not only will a new site comprehensively serve the senior citizens of the region, but will also allow for demolition to the previous senior center to be better utilized for higher density downtown development,” Cugini said. “The construction of a new senior center is also consistent with the long including the city’s goals for commercial development and future land use.”

“The Ishpeming Senior Center project is a great example of MEDC’s commitment to transforming properties into new developments that better serve area residents, improve downtown districts and act as a catalyst for future investment,” said MEDC Sr. Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We’re pleased to work with the many partners who brought this project to fruition, and look forward to seeing the additional economic activity it brings to downtown Ishpeming.”

The funding for the city’s radio water meter project comes from the Sharing and Grants Division, Financially Distressed Cities, Villages, and Townships.

“This will be coupled with other funding efforts which will install radio transmitting meters on homes throughout the city,” the release states. “These new meters will provide real time readings and eliminate the requirement to physically visit homes to obtain readings.”

The additional funding is expected to provide radio-read meters for a large percentage of the homes in the city, Cugini said.

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