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Monday, August 26,2013

Kids in the Hall

After taking two weeks to address residents’ concerns, the Council moves forward with South Lansing Pathway project

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, Aug. 26 — After tabling a resolution to accept federal grant money for a proposed 3.5-mile paved path across south Lansing by Jolly Road, the Lansing City Council unanimously agreed tonight to move forward with the South Lansing Pathway project.

The $1.1 million grant will cover more than 80 percent of the project’s construction costs. The pathway will be located just south of Jolly Road, connecting Waverly Road and Pennsylvania Avenue. A related project, paid for by state funding, continues 1.9 miles up Pennsylvania to Cavanaugh Road.

The city would be required to match the federal grant with about $250,000. It’s also estimated to cost about $8,000 a year in maintenance. That would be paid for with state-allocated Act 51 money, which the city receives from gasoline taxes.

The approval comes two weeks after the Council tabled the resolution at the request of Councilwoman A’Lynne Boles-Robinson, who said she wanted to take more time in committee to address residents’ concerns about costs, safety and maintenance. Mayor Virg Bernero lashed out after that Aug. 12 meeting, saying Boles-Robinson tabled it for “petty” political reasons. Boles-Robinson maintained tonight that she was doing those concerned residents a favor.

The Council spent about 30 minutes deliberating over the resolution after eight people spoke during public comment at the meeting, six of whom were supportive.

Supporters, including Becky Jo Farrington, who chairs the board of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, urged the Council to continue supporting non-motorized transportation in the city.

“It’s a way to make the community more vibrant, more sustainable and improve the quality of life in the Lansing area,” she told the Council.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved setting four public hearings at its Sept. 9 meeting related to Jackson National Life Insurance Co.’s planned expansion in Alaiedon Township. The Council is considering whether to grant industrial development districts and personal property tax exemptions for two parcels at the expansion site.

Councilman Brian Jeffries called it a “very unique arrangement” with Jackson National because the city will receive an infrastructure fee in the amount that would be exempted in personal property taxes.

“Usually with a personal property exemption we get nothing in return,” he said. “It’s a very, very good deal for the city.”
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