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Eastpointe, Roseville

November 7, 2012

Recreation authority receives thousands in state grant

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — The state of Michigan is helping to foot the bill on infrastructure improvements needed at the recreation center in Roseville.

The Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe received a Competitive Grant Assistance Program grant totaling $342,000 to help cover the cost of building improvements for the facility at 18185 Sycamore, which serves as the headquarters of the authority.

“It’s very exciting,” said Sam Aiuto, Roseville councilman and authority chair. “We have the ability now to better prepare the building for use by the authority and both communities.”

Aiuto first heard about the grant at a government seminar he attended in May. “It was a recreation seminar, but when I heard about the grant, I knew we had to apply,” he said. “I called (authority Director) Tony (Lipinski) immediately, before I even left, I think.”

Lipinski applied for the grant, detailing building issues that needed to be addressed and the two communities’ work developing the authority.

“The grant is definitely a bonus, though we actually requested quite a bit more. But anything is helpful,” Lipinski said.

He applied for $1 million in grant funding — or the approximate cost to fix problems in the foundation and cover a portion of an expansion.

The $342,000 that was received covers less than a quarter of what is needed to expand the building. The cost to fix cracking in the foundation in the northeast corner of the building is estimated at $750,000. An expansion is estimated at $1.5 million.

But just because the authority didn’t receive enough to make an expansion possible at this time, it doesn’t mean the concept is completely off the table.

“Once we get the master recreation plans done, there are some more,” Lipinski said. “Really, it’s a constant thing; I’m always on the lookout for grants that can help us improve the facility and the programming.”

Although the CGAP grant was applied for with building improvements in mind, Lipinski said the grant will benefit all recreation center programs.

“Indirectly, it will be used for activities and programs, because having this money to put towards building issues will free up money that would have had to go towards addressing them,” Lipinski said.

Whether they will be  addressed in the form of fixing pre-existing issues or tearing out a side of the building and adding an addition is still unknown; it will likely be determined in the coming months, as the authority prepares to host a series of public hearings to gain the community’s perspective on what services and amenities they want in their recreation center. Public hearing dates will be announced once scheduled, most likely beginning in December or January.

Aiuto said his primary concerns at this point are making sure the building is safe — which it is, according to a facility assessment report completed in May by Partners in Architecture and AEW — and drafting a master plan that is inclusive of the needs and desires of residents in both cities, and which will carry the authority into the future.

“We need to walk before we run,” Aiuto said. “The first thing we need to do is make sure we have a safe building. We are growing and blazing a trail the way the government wants us to and building this authority on the fly, learning as we go, which is a good thing.”

“We want the people to voice their opinions and ideas while we are in this process,” he added. “The more ideas, the better. Once we know what the community wants and expects from us, all we have to do is figure out what we have to do to make it happen.”

The authority is funded on 1 mill from taxpayers in Roseville and Eastpointe, but from its conception in summer 2011 to voters approving it in last November’s election, the value of it dropped by approximately $250,000, due to dropping values in the housing market. And, although housing values in the two cities are showing signs of starting to stabilize, they did continue to fall by a few percent in both communities throughout the remainder of the 2012 budget year, dropping the value of the millage even further. A hard number for the original 1 mill’s current value or total loss in value was not available at press time.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Veronica Klinefelt, an Eastpointe resident and authority board member. “I’m especially happy that we weren’t punished for being on the forefront, because that was a concern. Those grants are often for communities trying to establish these types of consolidated services, but we already had the authority established and we were concerned we might be looked over because of that.”

While happy to have received the award, Steve Duchane, Eastpointe’s city manager and authority board member, said the award doesn’t make up for what even Eastpointe alone has lost in revenue sharing, despite their success and ongoing efforts in consolidations.

“They’re giving back just a portion of what they’ve taken away in revenue sharing in the form of grants and celebrating,” Duchane said. “It is a little like scraps being thrown to the peasants, but at the same time we can’t battle ideology; we need to get as much as we can and put it to good use. Under this program in the (Gov.) Rick Snyder administration, they are providing a lot of funding to projects that are on the ‘if-come’ or ‘we hope it works,’ while the rec authority actually did work and is working, and because of that we weren’t sure if we’d get anything, but we did and I’m very happy about it.”

The CGAP grant was initiated shortly after Snyder took office to reward municipalities for efforts to consolidate or share services among local units of government.

A total of $10.5 million was awarded to 32 communities through CGAP in October, with the largest award of $3.6 million going to Grand Rapids for efforts to collaborate with the Michigan Municipal Services Authority to develop a cloud-computing environment. Macomb County received the second-largest grant at $1.5 million to consolidate dispatch and communications operations.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.