Township officials voted in fa...
HOLLY TOWNSHIP, Michigan - Holly Township is getting its first municipal sidewalk.
After a lengthy discussion and a 3-2 vote, the board approved building the first sidewalk Holly Township will own — 160-feet on the south side of Academy Road across and just east of Holly Academy.
Following two board-issued request for proposal, township officials awarded the work to the only bidder on the project, Stilwell Construction, at $6,400.
Some board members have reservations about the project, while parents of students say the sidewalk is badly needed.
Darlene McAninch, a parent of three children who walk daily to Holly Academy, said it’s important to get the sidewalk to reach all the way to the school crosswalk across Academy Road, something that would require another 350 feet of sidewalk in addition to the 160-feet approved by the board.
With no place to pull over and no traffic light on Academy Road, McAninch said she worries about children’s safety, and hoped the township board could help in making the area more viable for children who walk to school.
Resident Richard Rossell said, in his opinion, the township is liable if it doesn't lay a sidewalk. The safety of children is involved, and if someone is hurt, there would be a lawsuit, he said.
Several residents of the River...
Ken Kander, director of finance and operations for Holly Academy and a resident, spoke in support of the sidewalk. Kander said about 25 students live across the street from the school, and Holly Academy’s administrative team all supports having the section of sidewalk built. Even though construction of the segment still doesn’t complete the sidewalk, 160-feet of sidewalk is “better than nothing,” he said.
Parent Kevin Emmons agreed. His family has one child attending Holly Academy now, and two more who will attend when they're old enough. Emmons said he can walk the area without sidewalk, but little ones and the elderly struggle.
Board members discussed using some of the $55,000 in bond monies left to the township when the developer, Silverman, failed to complete the development. There are legal questions about how Holly Township can draw from the fund, Clerk Karin Winchester said, adding that public improvements are supposed to be assessed to the properties that actually reap the benefits of the improvements.
Holly Township initially received the piece of land the sidewalk will be on as a donation from the developer of the nearby Pulte subdivision. Winchester said the developer thought it would be a great location for a township hall, but the idea never came to fruition. If the township uses taxpayer dollars to construct the sidewalk on the property, Winchester said the township will never be able to gift the land back to the subdivision. Winchester said the board had recently discussed listing the property for sale, and adding $6,400 of improvements would have to be passed onto the purchaser. Currently, Winchester said those properties are not selling anywhere close to $6,400.
Additionally, Winchester has concerns with the way the project relates to Public Act 188 of 1954, an act that provides for townships making public improvements, such as sidewalks.
“I feel we need a legal opinion to see if the township is exempt from that act just because it owns the property,” Winchester said. “If the township didn’t own the property, the act would apply and there would be a process, including public hearings that the township would be required to follow to make that improvement.”
The township board approved using money from its general services funding, which has $20,962 available, Lambert said.
Lambert said the township can contract with the village of Holly Department of Public Works for clearing the sidewalk in the winter, or seek an independent contractor for it.
In a vote of 3-2, Lambert’s motion passed with Winchester and Treasurer Mark Freeman casting the dissenting votes.
“Safety of our residents is number one and I completely agree there should be sidewalks to any school, but we cannot overlook following proper procedure and the law,” Winchester said later. “It concerns me that this was being pushed through with open disregard for some board members’ concerns,” she added. “There was no reason that action could not have been postponed until the board had all of the necessary information it needed to make its decision.”
The 160-feet long sidewalk wil...
The bottom line, Winchester said, is adding the extra 160-feet of sidewalk still does not solve the safety problem, and the project has not yet been approved by the Road Commission of Oakland County for the installation in the road’s right of way.
After the meeting, McAninch said there needs to be more than the section of sidewalk the board approved.
“It needs to be functioning like any other schools would be functioning, with a sidewalk going the whole way to school,” she said.
There are 900 families whose children attend Holly Academy, and each family is responsible for getting their child to and from school.
“There is major mayhem at the school for dismissal and drop off and pickup,” McAninch said. “You have to rely on the cars to stop, and lots of them are in a hurry. There have been close calls.”