Archive for Thursday, April 13, 2006

Plan splits costs for street

Bittersweet extension to be paid 50-50 between city, school district

April 13, 2006

Lansing School Board and Lansing City Council seem to have settled their differences of opinion on who should pay to extend Bittersweet Street to West Mary Street, providing a straight link from Lansing Middle School to the new Lansing Elementary School. The city's preliminary cost estimate for building a bridge over 7-Mile Creek and extending Bittersweet to West Mary totals about $1.5 million.

The board and the council met in a special joint session Monday, April 10, at Lansing Middle School and were presented with a plan that would split the entire cost of the project in half.

City Administrator Mike Smith said he had met with schools Superintendent Randal Bagby several times to discuss a fair solution to paying for the road and how to bump up its priority status with the city.

Smith said the plan now on the table would entail splitting the entire cost of the construction 50-50 with the district. The city would take out general obligation bonds to pay for the road, Smith said, and it would be put on the city's priority list for next year, moving it ahead of construction on West Gilman and DeSoto roads.

The plan has yet to be approved by the City Council but will be discussed at the council's April 20 meeting, Smith said.

Bagby said the city would levy a special tax on the district to get the money. Such a tax, he said, requires no consent from the board.

One scenario presented showed the city would need about $80,000 each year from the district for the life of the bonds, which would probably be for 10 to 15 years.

Also at the meeting, Lansing's director of public works, John Young, updated the board on the Main Street System Enhancement project. Bids will be opened April 19, and construction could begin as early as May 15, he said, though he considered June 1 a more realistic start date. Young said the contract states that access to Ida and East Mary streets will not be blocked during the school year.

"Well, as citizens - and I'm sure you've all heard - we can't wait till it's over," school board President Brian Bode said of the Main Street construction.

When talk of road construction was finished, Council President Ken Ketchum asked whether the district was planning a welcome or farewell banquet for the Chinese students who will be completing their portion of the exchange program between Lansing High School and Kaifeng No. 5 Middle School by visiting Lansing in October.

Bode said "I think there should be," but nothing has yet been planned.

"Let's send them home with good memories," Ketchum urged. "They came bearing gifts, and we ought to send them home with gifts."

Other discussions at the meeting included:

¢ Whether the district would have surplus space to share with the city. Board member Rob Nicholas said he'd been reading about the city's plans to expand City Hall and wondered whether the district could cooperate with the city. Bagby said plans for using Lansing Elementary School when students move to the new building were still in the air.

¢ The possibility of creating a city government program for high school students. "If there was something, we'd be surprised at the number of kids who would participate," board vice president Shelly Gowdy said.


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