Plainfield negotiates settlement with Road Commission over canceled project

Township to reimburse $88,653 

by BETH ALTENA

The Plainfield Township Board in July voted to reimburse the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) $88,400 the commission invested in an approved widening of Belmont Road that was later cancelled. The KCRC in 2009 proposed the project, which was to be funded mainly by $900,000 in federal grants and also by $200,000 kicked in by the township. After the KCRC had spent over $100,000 on the project, an upwelling of disapproval for the widening caused the board in 2010 to rescind their approval of the project.

Township Manager Robert Homan said the KCRC asked to be reimbursed for $106,000 they had spent in good faith after the roadwork was improved, noting they had invested in field surveys, design, permits, staking and acquisition of roadway from residents with homes on the road. The township counter-proposed to reimburse the road commission $41,617 of the non-recoverable costs and pledged to pay $25,000 this year toward upkeep of the stretch of road and $21,000 in the future for the same purpose. The total reimbursement under the agreement from the township to the commission would total $88,653.

Trustee Vic Matthews said, “Under the circumstances, we’ve got us a pretty good deal. They could have charged us considerably more.”

Trustee Jack Hagedorn expressed concern over how the reversal came about. “Something was wrong with the process. After the final vote there was a huge groundswell of disapproval. Somewhere along the way there was a disconnect.” He said he is glad, as Vic was, that $46,000 would go toward the upkeep of Belmont, which until recently was plagued with potholes.

Treasurer Jim Stover was philosophical about the deal. “We made an agreement to be part of the project in 2009 to the tune of $200,000. A year later we changed our mind. I think paying out $88,400 is a good commitment on our part to resolve this and put it to bed.”

Trustee Charles Weldon was also for the payment and noted that all the people who were paid for easements were asked to return the money since the widening of the road was cancelled, removing the need for the easement. He said not a single one of the residents who were paid had returned any of the money. “They pocketed the money even though the project didn’t go through.”

Township Supervisor George Meek also approved paying the commission back. “You can vote to withdraw your support. You can’t vote away your responsibility.” He said of the original $106,000 the KCRC asked for, $46,000 was paid out in design, $34,000 was paid for rights of way, and $7,600 for field staking. He said the reduction of the bill through negotiation—$17,600—was a 16.5 percent reduction.

In a later meeting, Manager Robert Homan praised the recent work of the KCRC in resurfacing the stretch of road in question, from Jupiter to Post Drive. “I think this shows good faith of the commission. This is better than a chip-and-seal. It is a temporary solution, but it could be a long-term temporary solution.”

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