Allegations of harassment by his staff that Kent County Road Commissioner (KCRC) John Rice said “are totally bogus” but have been filed with the state are part of the reason a Belmont Avenue project has been dropped. Plainfield Township will be receiving a bill for the cost of work incurred so far on the project—as much as $90,000.
Rice said a $900,000 federal grant has a mid-August deadline. With citizen complaints and a vote by the Plainfield Board to withhold their $200,000 input, he feels the varied issues cannot be resolved in time to move forward with the work.
Planned was a $1.3 million repaving, curb, sidewalk and a third lane on Belmont Avenue between Post Road and Jupiter Avenue. It was to be paid for by the grant, the KCRC and the $200,00 from Plainfield. The project was unopposed at both a public hearing and an informational meeting attended by very few people. Residents began an impassioned battle against the township over the project this spring.
At the regular Plainfield Township Board Monday, May 3, the board voted four to three to withhold the $200,000 they had approved for adding sidewalks to the project. On Tuesday, May 11, the KCRC voted to cancel the project completely.
Rice said the federal aid will be used on road work in Solon Township or Grattan and Vergennes townships. The KCRC will continue to maintain the road, but has no plans for any repaving in the near future and no other grant money identified for any future work on the road.
On Monday, May 17 the board was attacked for their actions on both sides of the issue, by those who were angry at the loss of the grant and those who called for the recall of the three board members who voted against withholding the $200,000. Several asked the board to fire Township Manager Robert Homan.
“I think it’s important to see this as a lose-lose for everyone,” Rice said. “It’s unfortunate the township was convinced to change their mind on the project.”
Board member Vic Matthews, one of those who was against changing course in the project called the cancellation “a disaster and a huge loss to the residents of Plainfield Township.”