Funding options narrow for potential access road

ALPENA – Alpena Township and a group of local property owners attempting to have an access road built from Bagley Street behind Walmart and west to Crittendon Court may have to rely on USDA loans to get the job done.

At a meeting Friday the Michigan Department of Transportation informed them the likelihood of receiving a safety grant was unlikely and other resources should be explored. Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Director of Economic Development Jim Klarich contacted the Michigan Economic Development Commission to see if there was a way to obtain financial assistance for the road, but after learning there was not, exploring the USDA option was agree upon.

Local businessman Jim Townsend said although there is a lot of traffic on M-32, studies conducted by the state previously show it is not as congested to other business corridors in the state.

“It said the data would not support and, realistically speaking, we would not be eligible to acquire a safety grant,” Townsend said.

Township Supervisor Marie Twite said a federal loan may be the best way to obtain the funds and get the proposed project done. She said in order to do so, however, assessments may need to be levied for people along the M-32 corridor from Bagley Street to Walter Street to pay back the loan.

“We’re going to look at it to see what it could potentially mean for this. We would also look for a grant for infrastructure,” Twite said. “This point we don’t know how the rest of the property owners think of a special assessment, but at this point it is the only thing we can find that we know will work in order to allow the development.”

Twite said she didn’t want to speculate what the amount of the assessment would be, but said in her opinion it shouldn’t be a lot.

“We think it will be low numbers to get it done and when it is done it would allow for people to develop on both sides of the new street, with easy access. The first thing we have to do is get all of the property owners on board.”

As more stores open on M-32, the more long-term plans are needed to prevent traffic from becoming a large problem. Twite said there is currently a design in place, but a local contractor has stepped up to expand upon it to see how the road, or route, could be extended.

“I met with the contractor Thursday and went over the old map that shows how the current project would look. They are actually going to show it in a map form that shows us which property owners will be affected by it better and who else we need to be talking to,” Twite said. “It will also extend out further than what the one we have now does.”

Klarich, Twite and Townsend plan on contacting Rep. Peter Pettalia to see if there are any other funding sources he may know about and for a show of support for the project, and also contact U.S, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who is on the agriculture committee and has ties with the USDA.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.