By Ralph Echtinaw
City Councilman and business owner George Kubin wants the city to resurface alleys behind businesses on the west side of North Mill Street.
The alleys, along with parking lots behind businesses on the east side of North Mill, were fixed up in 2003 for a cost of $500,000. Bonds were issued to pay part of that, and the Downtown Development Authority didn’t retire the debt until 2018.
“By the time the payments were done, the DDA fund was just about empty,” said DDA Director Phil Hansen via email. Since then the DDA’s coffers have grown to contain $48,000 with $24,000 a year coming in from DDA businesses.
“I can’t think of a better way to use that money than to keep the streets and alleys downtown in good shape,” Kubin said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “I really noticed it today. I hate to see them go back to the way they were 17 years ago when it was almost a dirt road.”
The alley gets a lot of traffic, Kubin said, and the parking spaces behind the Blue Shamrock are “full of cars all the time. You can hardly even park back there.”
DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott chimed in to say, “The cars don’t bother me as much as the big trucks.”
Kubin responded: “Those are my guys doing that,” referring to the semi trucks that deliver furniture to his store. Later, in an email, Kubin noted that “the post office has many times more large truck traffic than I do.”
In the email, Kubin said he wants city administrators to consider using a combination of DDA money and a Community Development Block Grant to resurface the alleys in the next few years. “The type of resurfacing I was suggesting is chip seal with fog overcoat,” he said. “This process was used on Cheeseman Road last year and greatly extends the life of the paved surface.”
“We need to look into what our next expenditures or projects might be,” DDA Director Hansen said. “Looking at things like keeping the alleys and parking lots in good shape will certainly fall into that discussion.”
IT services contract
City council voted unanimously to approve a three-year contract for technical support with Rehmann of Saginaw.
The basic service costs $44,000 a year and includes monitoring of computers, phones, cameras and main printers that are connected to the city network.
Rehmann also backs up the city’s data for $6,600 a year.
City Finance Director Bobbie Marr said she looked into one of Rehmann’s competitors, and the cost was $15,000 less per year, but the service is lacking. “On the surface it looks great,” Marr said. “But everyone I talked to said it’s not 24/7 service. They don’t do a lot of monitoring.”
The city has quite a few computers, phones and tablets to keep in good working order. There are 58 “monitored network devices” and 30 work stations.
City Councilman Tom Reed was absent.