Commissioners Approve Ballot Proposals, Fiber Bond, TART Funding
By Beth Milligan | June 20, 2023
Traverse City commissioners voted Monday to approve ballot language for two proposals that will go before voters this fall to expand the city-owned Brown Bridge Quiet Area (BBQA). Commissioners also voted to approve issuing up to $13.5 million in bonds to complete the citywide buildout of a smart grid network through Traverse City Light & Power, to commit $421,449 toward the expansion of the TART Trail, and to hire consulting firm Amy Cell Talent to lead the search process for a new city manager.
One of the two proposals commissioners approved putting on the November ballot (by a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Tim Werner opposed) will ask for voter approval to tap into the Brown Bridge Trust Fund to access $746,245 to to acquire 528 acres directly north of the BBQA. That will expand the preserve by nearly 40 percent and leave over $11.2 million in principal remaining in the fund. The second ballot proposal would amend a 2019 stipulation stating that no single allocation to a city park project or acquisition can exceed $250,000.
Commissioners also voted Monday to proceed with issuing up to $13.5 million in bonds to complete the citywide buildout of a smart grid network through Traverse City Light & Power. Funding will include up to $10 million to cover additional expenses to build out the grid, plus $3.5 million to cover drop costs for connecting customers to the fiber network. The total project cost is approximately $28.2 million, including nearly $14.7 million provided through a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan.
Commissioners voted Monday (with Werner opposed) to commit $421,449 toward the expansion and extension of the TART Trail downtown, as well as to support a state grant application for the project. The city, TART Trails, and the TC Downtown Development Authority (DDA) are partnering on improving the trail between the West End Beach parking lot and the intersection of Garfield Avenue and East Front Street. A concept plan calls for expanding the segments of the existing trail width to 16 feet, with 10 feet dedicated to bi-directional bicycle use and six feet dedicated to pedestrian use.
TART Trails is preparing to apply for a Revitalization and Placemaking Program (RAP 2.0 Program) grant for $500,000 for trail improvements between the Murchie Bridge and Senior Center. Engineering on the trail segment will be completed in the coming months. The goal is to complete the trail construction next year in conjunction with the state’s reconstruction of Grandview Parkway/East Front Street. The total estimated cost for this particular trail segment is $1,242,898. Proposed funding sources include the state RAP grant ($500,000/40 percent), the City of Traverse City ($421,449/34 percent), DDA ($200,000/16 percent), and TART Trails ($121,449/10 percent).
Finally, commissioners voted Monday to hire consulting firm Amy Cell Talent to lead the search process for a new city manager. The firm was one of three companies invited to interview with commissioners for the project. Walsh Municipal Services LLC was the lowest bidder at $14,900, followed by Amy Cell Talent at $19,500, and GovHR USA at $24,500. Nate Geinzer is serving as interim manager following the departure of former City Manager Marty Colburn until a new manager is selected, a process that could take several months to complete.
Pictured: Brown Bridge Quiet AreaComment