City of Rockford may say no to federal stimulus money

Rockford City Manager Michael Young said the federal restrictions on money provided by the stimulus program may make the cash not worth the effort.

Before Rockford City Council on Monday, August 10, Young told the board that Rockford may receive approval for stimulus monies for a $120,000 project to repave Main Street. Because handicap ramps in the project area are not up to federal standards, they would likely have to be replaced. There are 12 that would be included in the project.

“It’s stupid,” said Young. “This money could go five times farther without these types of restrictions.” He said the ramp replacements would add about $25,000 to the project. “These are pristine ramps that have served for ten years or more.” Young said federal guidelines require the handicap ramps have a colored, textured section in front of the beginning of the ramp which would be useful for the visually impaired.

The money would also be limited to the driving portion of the street. Young said the two lanes of Main would fall under acceptable guidelines to use the stimulus money, but Rockford would have to pay for the repaving of the sides of the road where cars park.

Funding the paving with stimulus money, the project could begin next July. This was also raised as a concern. “With Wolverine possibly taking down buildings next summer, we would hate to pave the street and then have all those trucks on it,” Young said.

Young also gave council an update on the progress of the decomissioning of the tannery. He said company has told him that by mid-September all tanks on the property will have been cleaned and all chemicals will have been removed. Wolverine will then bring in an assessor to evaluate the buildings and contents. He said redevelopment of the property could begin as early as 2010 and Wolverine will be present at an upcoming informational meeting open to the public.

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