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City sidewalk project

By Mike Womack, City Manager, City of Cedar Springs

Sidewalks are a vital part of connecting our community and provide a way for everyone, of all ages, to move around our City. Yet they are largely in need of repair, expansion and replacement. Many residential sections of the City do not have sidewalks. Many of the sidewalks that do exist have been in the ground since the 1950s and are in poor condition. These sidewalks prevent citizens from having a safe place to walk, lack wheelchair access and create an eyesore for visitors and residents alike.

To provide much needed repair and expansion, the City is excited to announce that Cedar Springs, working with Kent County Community Action, has been awarded a Community Development Block Grant of approximately $468,800 for City sidewalk improvement. The City’s contribution is approximately $156,260 for a total project investment of around $625,070. The City is currently awaiting a pending final approval of the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While the plans are not finalized, we do know that the project will focus on specific areas of the City, and the City Engineers and DPW staff are working diligently to finalize the exact locations of where the sidewalks are to be placed. The project will focus on the east side of Main St. and will focus on east-west pedestrian access on Elm St. and Ash St. It will also focus on north-south pedestrian access on Grant St. and Park St., with some extension on Linda St. and Ann St. There will be some additional sidewalk installation to the north, providing easier access from 18 Mile Road down to the core of the City. Once the plans are completed the City will make a detailed map available for everyone to review.

One of the best aspects of this project is that it will not cost individual citizens any money, no taxes will be raised and no special assessments will be imposed for this work. By waiting for a good grant opportunity to arise, the City was able to triple the amount received for the local contribution, which made it easier for the City to pay for the project without the need for a special assessment. This allows for a fiscally responsible way to complete this important project.

However, in order to complete the project it will be necessary to remove some of the encroachments in the City’s right of way.  Alongside each public road in the City, the City retains a right of way easement of about 33 feet, from the center of the road onto each piece of property. This easement allows the City to work on the roads, water lines and sewer lines. This is also the area where the City is able to install sidewalks. This means that fences, landscaping and other objects that are located in the City’s right of way may unfortunately need to be removed to finish this project. Once the City has completed its final sidewalk placement plan, it will notify homeowners of the need to relocate or remove encroachments and will provide the homeowners the opportunity to undertake that task themselves. If the City is required to remove the encroachment the objects will not necessarily be saved intact, and any encroachments which cost a significant amount of time and money to remove may be charged back to the encroaching homeowner. Again, specific homeowners will be notified of any encroachment and will be given time to address the situation before work begins.   

The City Council, City Manager and City Staff are excited to have these new sidewalks installed to improve the safety, appearance and accessibility of our community. We are also terribly excited to be able to accomplish these improvements without any additional cost to the citizens. We look forward to this, and many more, improvements in the months and years to come.

You can reach City Manager Mike Womack at (616) 696-1330 ext. 104. 

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