Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Allegan council votes to close trestle bridge temporarily

By Leslie Ballard

The temporary closure of the Trestle Bridge and the adoption of the City of Allegan 2023 Budget were the major topics of discussion at the May 23 City Council meeting while a presentation on the state of Allegan’s roads took up most of the Study Session.
Trestle Bridge
City Manager Joel Dye presented the Council with a report from Scott Engineering about the condition of the Trestle Bridge. While the decking, beams and railing are in good shape, the pylons extending into the water and the capping are not. Scott Engineering recommended that only pedestrian traffic and man-powered pedal machines be allowed to use it with vehicle weight not exceed 500 pounds.
The Council discussed the impact this would have on the recently passed ordinance about ORV’s having access to downtown Allegan. While some ORVs would be under the weight restriction, most would not be, which would limit access to downtown from the north. Most golf carts would also weigh in at more than 500 pounds.
Shane Kellum, a member of an ORV group, spoke of their group visiting Fennville recently and what a success it was for the city and the large number of riders. He said that the group had hoped to make Allegan their next destination, but the bridge weight restrictions could make that more challenging.
After further discussion and a review of the photographs of the bridge provided by the engineer, the Council unanimously voted to close the Trestle Bridge temporarily for safety reasons and will discuss it further at the next Council meeting.
2023 Budget
The Council also spent time asking Finance Director Tracy Stull questions about the budget, particularly regarding forecasts about drawing down the fund balance over the next few years. After clarifying that the fund balance is sufficient to sustain the draw downs, Stull reminded the Council that they have multiple capital projects underway that require those extra funds.
The 2023 budget calls for total revenue and total expenditures of $20, 274, 804.
The cost of Streetscape also came up, and Mayor Delora Andrus made it clear that what Streetscape eventually looks like will depend on the funding available, which will come from grants and donations. Dye commented that Streetscape is a plan but that it has already been revised due to costs. He also emphasized that the staff is seeking as many grants and other funding options as possible.
Several Council members expressed the desire to avoid bonding the project, and Andrus agreed, stating that the Council goal in recent years was to use more cash and less bonding.
The Council unanimously approved the 2023 budget. The budget is available on the City of Allegan website.
Public Hearings
Three Public Hearings were held regarding Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) requests and each was subsequently adopted unanimously. Alex Wilkening, who has purchased Hunters at 208 Trowbridge, was on hand to answer questions. He plans to open a restaurant sometime in 2023. He received an 8-year certificate to complete renovations to the building.
One Enterprises made two OPRA requests for downtown properties. They received a 9-year certificate to renovate the former Iron Bridge Sports Bar as a mixed-use commercial/residential property. The company has retained the liquor license.
They also received an 8-year certificate for renovations to 132 Hubbard Street. Hubbard Street Hair Salon will remain in one suite while the other two will be leased to a couple planning to open a winery and brewery.
The City Council held a First Reading and scheduled a public hearing for June 13, 2022, regarding Ordinance 503, Amendments to the zoning map to rezone Parcel 03-51-251-041- 00 from M-1 Manufacturing to R-2 Single Family Residential.
The property is currently vacant. The master plan indicates this parcel and multiple parcels within this area to be rezoned to R-3 Multi-family Residential. An R-2 Zoning would be compatible with surrounding uses and zoning districts.
On May 16, 2022, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed zoning map amendment, and no one from the public spoke at the public hearing. The Planning Commission then voted unanimously to recommend adoption of the ordinance.
The Council voted 6-1 with Peter Hanse abstaining.
The Council unanimously approved a Special Use Permit for 759 Grand Street to operate a Outdoor Sales Lot based on a recommendation from the City of Allegan Planning Commission. The property owner at 759 Grand Street is applying for a special use permit to operate an outdoor sales lot to sell used cars and offer small scale auto repair services.
The City Council unanimously adopted the resolution supporting an application for Transportation Economic Development Fund category B (TEDF – B) for Hubbard Street improvements in the grant amount of $250,000.00.
They also unanimously approved a resolution supporting an application for Revitalization and Placemaking (RAP) grant for $1 million for the downtown Streetscape project.
Committee Reports
Councilman Bill Morgan provided the Council with the Riverfront Design Committee meeting report. A community meeting on July 20, 2022 at 6:00 pm at city hall will include a short presentation describing the history of the committee, the process to get to the high level conceptual plans developed by AECOM, and will allow for citizen input.
Councilman Roger Byrd briefly summarized the Planning Commission meeting which included two public hearings about the rezoning and special use permit mentioned above.
Parker Johnson, Downtown Manager and Assistant to the City Manager, shared highlights from the Public Spaces Commission meeting, including the status of the Rossman Park DNR Grant application and the skate park improvements. The new Allegan Parks brochure has been approved and will be included in the June water bill mailing. Friends of Allegan’s Oakwood Cemetery Tour events include the Living History Tour on June 3 and 4 as well as a Cemetery Workshop on June 25. The community garden will be continued for another year.
Dye asked the Council to approve a change order in the amount of and $182,999 for the 2nd Street Bridge improvements because some crossbeam joints need to be replaced. As some Council members noted that they didn’t have much choice since the project is already underway. Kadzbahn stated that the life expectancy for the bridge once the current work is complete is 20 years. The Council unanimously approved the change order.
The Council voted unanimously to approve accounts payable in the amount of $289,598.26 and payroll in the amount of $110,251.87 for a total disbursement of $399,850.13.
Other Business
They also voted to cancel the June 27, July 25, and August 22 Study Session meeting so that they could be available at public events on those dates. Regular Council meetings on those dates will still be held.
Dye reminded the Council about the upcoming concert at Griswold Auditorium featuring Asamu Johnson & the Assosiates of the Blues on May 27 at 7 pm. The Memorial Day Parade will be held once again this year. Council member Roger Byrd praised the volunteers who helped make Beer, BBQ and Blues a great event.
Study Session
During the Study Session two Council members shared some citizen concerns about the farmer’s market location and about the possibility of installing rainbow crosswalks similar to those in Saugatuck.
City Roads
The majority of the session revolved around the presentation on the state of the roads in the city. Department of Public Works Director Doug Kadzbahn and Engineer of record Tony McGhee provided a review of Allegan’s Pavement Surface Evaluation and Ratings (PASER), which is based on distress, not ride, reveals that the majority of the city roads are in need of preventive maintenance or more substantial repairs.
PASER is a universal standard for evaluating roads and was adopted by Michigan in the 1990’s and provides guidelines for appropriate treatment from reconstruction to little or no maintenance. The PASER scale is 1-10 with 1 being bad and 10 being excellent.
Forty-two percent of the city roads are PASER category 3 and 4, which means structural improvement and leveling (overlay or recycling) is needed, and 34% are in category 5 and 6, which means preservative treatments such as sealcoating is necessary.
McGhee stated that Allegan’s numbers are consistent with the rest of Michigan.
McGhee then described Roadsoft, a roadway management system for collecting, storing and analyzing data about the state of the roads. He told the Council that this data can make their policy and decision making easier and facilitate planning and budgeting.
The recommendation is that Allegan invest $550,000 annually in road repair. This amount includes construction and engineering. He stressed prioritizing roads in the 3-5 PASER category as they are fixable and the best return on investment. A this point it would cost approximately $45 million to fix all the city roads, which is why Abonmarche recommends prioritizing the work.
Dye described the presentation as a “reality check” as Allegan has “serious needs in the infrastructure.” He asked the Council to hold a community meeting to share this information with the public to which they agreed.
The Council reviewed the programming for Bridgefest on June 11 in downtown Allegan. A variety of activities are planned beginning with the Splash Pad and Zip Line opening at 10 am followed by a 5 and 10 K run, a cornhole tournament, an art market, an auto show, a Ferris wheel, inflatables and musical entertainment at both Mahan Park and the Riverfront Stage. The Social District will open at 11 am and food trucks will be available. The event will end with fireworks at 10:15 pm.

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