BELDING – The Belding City Council approved an application Tuesday evening to help pay for improvements to the Flat River banks along Main Street.
All five council members agreed the bank along Main Street between the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library and Ashfield Street is a priority.
But some hesitated to back the grant application process.
“I think it is pretty hard to digest all the extra stuff we have to do to try to to get the grant money,” Councilman Mike Scheid said. “There is so much fluff. It shouldn’t be so involved at all.”
City Manager Randy DeBruine said the city was encouraged to pursue some enhancements on the site first to be more competitive for a Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Downtown Infrastructure Grant.
“Stabilizing this bank in this area is a No. 1 priority,” DeBruine said.
The project would include driving 225 feet of sheetpiling from the top of the hill to the river to hold the bank in place while allowing for a seven-foot sidewalk
Engineers expected the project will cost about $445,000. The grant would cover more than $351,000 and the city would pay about $93,400. Belding’s Downtown Development Authority has agreed to contribute $10,000 of the city’s cost.
DeBruine said the project needs to include aesthetic improvements to be eligible for the grant. Those include the sidewalk, signage, a walkway, an observation deck and decorative street lighting.
“I think it is sounds silly that there is so much involved in the aesthetics first,” Councilman Jon Bunce said.
Mayor Roger Wills said the project is necessary even with the “fluff.”
“If they say we should do them to better our chances of getting the grant, we should go for it,” he said. “It makes it more perplexing, but there are no other options.”
Scheid reluctantly agreed to support the project.
“I hate to do it,” he said. “I think we just need to get it fixed without worrying so much about making it pretty.”