South Lansing Pathway

By Andy Balaskovitz

Council committee addresses questions with planned South Lansing Pathway; Boles-Robinson hopes full Council will unanimously approve project

Friday, Aug. 16 — Third Ward Lansing City Councilwoman A’Lynne Boles-Robinson is feeling much better about accepting a $1.1 million federal grant to help pay for a non-motorized pathway through her ward.

At a roughly two-hour Ways and Means Committee today, she had lingering questions from residents answered by the administration about the South Lansing Pathway, which includes a 3.5-mile non-motorized path south of Jolly Road between Waverly Road and Pennsylvania Avenue. It would run through a Consumers Energy right of way separate from the road.

Another 1.9-mile section, from Pennsylvania north to Cavanaugh Road, is related to the project, though that portion is funded by state “Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality” dollars and is not subject to Council approval.

Most of the concerns were related to the city’s contribution to construction and maintenance costs, as well as security.

At a Council meeting Monday, Boles-Robinson tabled a resolution to accept the federal grant based on outstanding questions she heard at a constituent meeting Saturday. She planned on a representative from the Bernero Administration being there to address those, but that wasn’t the case. Mayor Virg Bernero called “bullshit” on Boles-Robinson’s move and added that the delay could jeopardize the funding.

“This was not a bunch of gamesmanship and B.S.,” Boles-Robinson said at the end of today’s meeting, “based on the number of people who came out today and asked questions.”

Eleven people spoke during public comment at today’s meeting, most of whom support the project but had concerns about security and project costs.

The city would be required to match the federal grant with about $250,000. It’s also estimated to cost about $8,000 a year in maintenance.

Andy Kilpatrick, a transportation engineer with the city’s Public Service Department, said that would be paid for through Act 51 money, which are payments from the state’s gasoline tax. Some were concerned that it’d come from the General Fund, but that’s not the case, he said.

Kilpatrick said he also met with Police Chief Mike Yankowski about concerns related to crime and safety in the area, though Yankowski said it’s difficult to measure because there aren’t specific addresses involved.

“He did say that, anecdotally, they didn’t feel that crimes or security issues along the River Trail or along this area are significantly different than adjacent area,” Kilpatrick said.

The deadline to approve the grant is Aug. 23, but Kilpatrick said the state, which is allocating the federal money, is willing to allow the city a few more days.

Boles-Robinson said the resolution accepting the grant will be up for a vote at the Council’s next meeting on Aug. 26. “My hope is to have an 8-0 agreement moving forward,” she said.