Home All Articles NewsDesperately seeking stimulus
Jan. 30 2009 12:00 AM

With President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package pending before the U.S. Senate, Lansing officials have wasted no time putting together a wish list for the federal dollars.

A spreadsheet detailing projects the city would like were presented by Randy Hannan, spokesman for Mayor Virg Bernero,  to the City Council Committee of the Whole at its Thursday meeting. The request was due to the office of Gov. Jennifer Granholm today.

"If there were unlimited funding available, this is what we'd ask for," Hannan told the Council.

The list includes $700,000 for improvements to Frances Park, $900,000 for the expansion of the Gier Center's gym, $3.2 million for a new fire station and training center and a total of $12.75 million for repairing local and major roads in the city. The total amount of Lansing's request is $107 million, Hannan confirmed Friday.

In the case of the Gier project, if the federal dollars are awarded in the total amount the city requested, the city could use the money that has been set aside for that project to fund other projects, Hannan explained; it would essentially allow the city to swap federal funds for city dollars to create extra funds.

But the plan wasn't received at the meeting well by all. Second Ward Councilwoman Sandy Allen was upset the project list wasn't given to Council until the day before it was going to be sent to the Governor.

"This is going to the Governor's office tomorrow? That doesn't give us opportunity for input," she told Hannan Thursday.

He replied that the Council was welcome to offer input, which the administration would then consider.

Allen then asked if the stimulus plan goes through and funds the city's projects, would the number of city employees increase? Hannan's answer: "Probably not." That left Allen exasperated, but as Hannan pointed out, the intent of the stimulus package is to create jobs locally, and jobs will be created as the city hires contractors to complete the projects. Those jobs may go to Lansing residents and Lansing companies, but in any case, the net benefit for the economy would be a positive.

However, Hannan pointed out, the stimulus project list is at a very early stage in a process that "will play itself out," and is not on any particular timeline, noting that Congress had yet to approve the package.

Top requests (in terms of dollars and not included in the above article):

Combined Sewer Overflow project - total of $31 million

New parking structure/BoarsHead Theater - $12 million

Twelves miles of new city sidewalk - $3 million

South Side Community Center - $2.2 million

Source: City of Lansing

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