BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
What began with an application for a major sewer improvement project nearly three years ago has finally come to fruition.
Boyne City Commissioners unanimously agreed last week to accept a grant of nearly $700,000 to help pay for stormwater management and wastewater projects.
“This is a program offered through the MDEQ that developed a Strategic Water Quality Initiatives Fund (SWQIF)—this was a $450-million fund designed to provide funding to municipalities for the planning, design and construction of improvements for their stormwater and wastewater treatment systems,” said Boyne City Planning Director Scott McPherson. “Through the grant program, funding provided would be to develop wastewater asset management plans, stormwater asset management plans, and stormwater management plans and, also, it provides funding for computer hardware, software, and training to help develop and implement that data.”
The estimated project cost is $749,373. Of that amount, Boyne City would be required to match 10 percent.
However, additional reimbursements are available which would ultimately reduce the city’s financial burden to $58,526, with the remaining roughly $692,000 paid for by the Storrm Water Management and Wastewater (SAW) Grant.
According to McPherson, in order to implement the grant and develop the plans, the city sought and received engineering services, from C2AE, for the project.
This is the final year this grant opportunity will be available. The money came from leftover funds from a clean water initiative.
“It’s a 10:1 benefit for the community,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain. “It will help us give some good information and infrastructure and make sure that we have the pieces in place to take our existing excellent stormwater and wastewater systems and make sure that they have the proper maintenance and support going forward into the future.”
He added, “It will also provide staff with a lot of additional data through measurements going out and doing field checking with regards to our … wastewater and our stormwater systems that’ll help build us a more robust information system through our GIS system that we have already.”
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said it will be a great program that may save money in the long run.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom agreed the plan would benefit the city and asked about the time-line.
Engineering officials said the city will have three years to implement the plan.
The project is expected to begin before the year’s end, possibly as soon as October.
Boyne City Commissioner Hugh Conklin asked what ongoing expenses there will be to maintain the program and equipment.
Engineering officials said the future costs will likely be minimal and mostly include potential future upgrade and training costs.
Boyne City Commissioner Ron Grunch asked who will be in charge of designing a necessary capital improvement plan.
“We will do that with the assistance of city staff,” said Engineer Larry Fox of C2AE…. “We will develop the plan but we will certainly utilize input from city staff.”
A motion to accept the grant was unanimously approved.