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Cost of snowmelt expansion revealed

Alex Doty • Dec 19, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Grand Haven officials now have a clearer picture of the costs associated with expanding the city's snowmelt system.

According to a study by engineering firm GMB, it would cost an estimated $155,000 to place snowmelt within the sidewalk, curb and gutter between Franklin and Washington avenues as a part of the upcoming Harbor Drive infrastructure project.

"I brought it to the (Downtown Development Authority) board and asked what they thought about it," City Manager Pat McGinnis said. "They did say that they would support the extension of snowmelt if the private property owners would fund it."

The areas affected would be 130 feet in front of The Kirby House, 112 feet in front of the Zephyr building, 132 feet in front of the Chamber of Commerce/Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, and 165 feet in front of the 1 S. Harbor Ave. parking lot.

City officials note that the cost would be spread out over 20 years at 3 percent interest, resulting in about $10,316 per year that would be divided amongst the four property owners, in addition to the annual operating cost of the snowmelt system.

"These are very preliminary numbers based on a study," McGinnis said. "I think this is as good of a snowmelt study as we're going to get on short notice."

City Council approved the study in November in order to evaluate future energy sources for the snowmelt system, as well as to look at the possibility of extending the system during the upcoming road and utility reconstruction project.

The bulk of the Harbor Drive reconstruction work will be paid for with the $1.15 million Infrastructure Capacity Enhancement grant the city received earlier this year. Work will include new public utilities beneath the surface and a new street surface.

Mike Fritz was one of several on City Council who said the road and sidewalks being torn up for the Harbor Drive project provides an opportune time to expand the snowmelt system.

"As the Main Street board said, if they are willing to pay for it, that's fine," Fritz said of the property owners.

Fritz noted that while it would be nice if the reconstructed Harbor Drive could also have snowmelt added to it, the councilman said he realized that the work would be too costly for the city.

"We don't have that kind of cash," Fritz said.

McGinnis said he’ll now bring the concept to the affected property owners to gauge their interest in the project.

Also on Monday night, McGinnis said the city is looking at the cost of burying the power lines along Harbor Drive, between Washington and Howard avenues, as a part of the infrastructure project.

“(The Board of Light & Power) gave us a number of $850,000 to get all of that done,” the city manager said.

McGinnis said the city will talk with the BLP, as well as affected property owners in the area, regarding the costs of burying the power lines, the level of interest in the work and how such a project would be funded.

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