Macomb TownshipOctober 03, 2012
Board still debates SMART expansion
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Trustee Janet Dunn, chairwoman for the SMART committee, said it could be another 30 to 60 days before the township can finalize its new plan to transport its senior citizens and disabled residents.
But at its Sept. 26 meeting, the Board of Trustees did approve shifting control of the Suburban Mobile Authority for Regional Transportation vans from the supervisor’s office to the Parks and Recreation Department. Township Supervisor Mark Grabow was the lone dissenting vote.
Dunn said there is still much more that needs to be figured out, such as the number of additional drivers the township will need. “We want to do it right, and we want to do it right the first time,” Dunn said.
Right now, Dunn said, the township simply does not have enough drivers to properly serve senior citizens — who use the SMART vehicles for errands — and the 16 students SMART transports from the township to Macomb Academy in Clinton Township, an adult education center for special needs students.
Currently, Macomb Academy students from Macomb are spending up to four hours a day on the SMART vehicles while being transported to and from school.
The plan for expansion would create a fixed route to pick up the 16 Macomb Academy students in the morning and afternoon while keeping other vehicles free to drive seniors to their errands. “To do this with those extra students, we do not have those drivers,” Dunn said, noting that drivers of SMART Dial-A-Ride vans, the type used in Macomb, can work only 25 hours a week.
A tentative plan, created by the SMART committee and given to the board at the meeting, found the township will need eight part-time drivers and will have to hire a part-time scheduler to work four hours for five days a week.
Additionally, the township would hire two part-time dispatchers with the same number of hours as the scheduler.
Trustee Roger Krzeminski said the reason the board moved the control of the vehicles to Parks and Recreation Department is because the plan calls for moving the storage of the vans next to the Marvin Blank Senior Center, a building under the control of that department already.The SMART community grant will pay for the expansion.
The township receives about $160,000 annually from the grant.
Grabow has expressed frustration toward his fellow board members the past two meetings for not making a final decision on the plan.“We’re here as a community and leaders of the community,” Grabow said. “We’re not here as bureaucratic stalls.”