They may not have a vote, but members of the newly formed Macomb Township Road Paving Committee will certainly have a voice.
Meeting for the first time last week at , the committee, which consists of township residents and local officials, is the newest avenue for residents to share their ideas and concerns about the township’s road situation.
“The reason we’re here is to start connecting the dots,” said township Clerk Michael Koehs, referring to the approximately 13 miles of road left to be paved in Macomb Township.
“This is not a decision-making body, this is a recommending body,” he said. “This is a committee that is going to research a specific topic and then report back to the township board and they will make whatever decision they feel is important.”
Representing the interests of 24 Mile Road, Fairchild and other unpaved stretches of the township, nine residents attended the committee’s inaugural meeting last Wednesday.
“I joined knowing that I would have a voice in the road improvements,” said Scott Scharich, who lives on Fairchild Road.
Undergoing a crash course in community development, Scharich and other residents quickly learned the township’s different road types, developed a list of priority considerations for paving and reviewed revenue sources at the township’s disposal.
Moving forward, the committee will use this information to develop a priority list for the township board of trustees, which will in turn use these recommendations to pursue projects with the Macomb County Department of Roads.
Each year, the township provides the department with a sort of “wish list” for the roads it would like to see paved. However, as committee members quickly realized, funding is the key to action in almost every case.
“(The Department of Roads) will pave any road we want, we just have to write them a check,” Koehs said. Unfortunately, the township cannot afford to deplete its rainy day fund to do so, he added.
On a typical cost-sharing project, the county covers 40 percent of the overall expense while the township foots the remaining 60 percent of the bill. In the case of the , the township is willing to pay all $803,492 upfront to ensure that section of road is available as a detour when the bridge at 23 Mile at North Avenue closes this summer.
Because the county operates on a two-year allocation cycle, it is unable to cover its portion of this project until 2014-15 at the earliest. However, Macomb County Director of Roads Robert Hoepfner has said the county will credit its portion to a future Macomb Township project.
This is where the committee comes in.
“When (the Department of Roads) gets around to making out their 2014-15 budget, we want to be there with our list and say, ‘This is what we want to do. Here’s the funding to make it happen,” Koehs said. “It would be nice to budget it up, build it up (through a capital improvement plan, special assessment district or millage), and see the roads paved and our rainy day fund the same.”
In preparation for the committee’s next meeting on April 18, Koehs asked members to make their own lists of what they want to talk about and send him any road-related questions that can be posed to Hoepfner, who will be asked to attend April 18.
The committee will meet the first and third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Any resident is welcome to join and can take an active role in the discussion or simply be a spectator.
Contact Koehs at 586-992-0710 or email@example.com for additional information or to be put on the committee’s email list.