CRYSTAL FALLS—Following the regular bi-monthly meeting of the Iron County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 28, a special meeting was held March 8 to review issues regarding support of the Friends of the Heritage Trail’s grant awards for extension of a non-motorized bike path from Caspian to Pentoga Park.
At the February meeting, Chairman Wayne Wales explained some concerns he and the board had with accepting any financial risk involved with the $1.6 million grants from MDOT and Scenic Byways.
“We believe we can build the trail for less than the grants,” he said, “but if we take the grants, we could be responsible for cost over-runs of up to 9 percent.”
If the costs exceed 10 percent, the county has the right to reject the bids.
“We could be on the hook for up to $120,000,” Wales said.
Requests for letters of assurance from MDOT and Scenic Byways that the project would not exceed the grant amounts were not obtained.
Wales told the board at the February meeting that he had asked Iron County Road Commission Superintendent Doug Tomasoski to develop a cost estimate of the project. This he did, Wales said, as a volunteer.
Using the old roadbed and “robbing materials from it,” Wales said, the project could come in at $1,165,251.
“MDOT is taking in-kind contributions into consideration,” he said.
“We have to make a decision soon. We have to be comfortable we’re taking on the risk. If we don’t take the money, I feel you can forget any bike trail in Iron County.”
In the next week, Wales received letters from both Stambaugh Township and Gaastra, indicating the municipalities would commit money to help underwrite the county’s match for the grants.
Stambaugh Township committed $40,000 if there is an over-run; Gaastra committed $9,700 for in-kind services.
At the March 7 special meeting, Wales said, “This is as good as we’ll get with this project. I don’t believe we’ll need Stambaugh’s money. I believe we’ll be able to build this project without over-runs.
“We’d be foolish not to sign.”
It was also noted that Crystal Falls Township was willing to contribute if needed, and maintenance agreements from all units through which the trail will run have been received.
The board approved a motion to sign the agreements for the grant awards. The next step is for the Heritage Trail committee to select an engineer for the project.