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Harper Woods gets grant money to improve City Hall, water meters

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published June 18, 2020

 The city of Harper Woods recently received grant money in the amount of $202,000 to make repairs to its City Hall facilities, including replacing and repairing the building’s windows.

The city of Harper Woods recently received grant money in the amount of $202,000 to make repairs to its City Hall facilities, including replacing and repairing the building’s windows.

Photo provided by John Szymanski

 Harper Woods received two grants to help make improvements through the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships grant program.

Harper Woods received two grants to help make improvements through the Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships grant program.

Photo provided by John Szymanski

HARPER WOODS — The city of Harper Woods recently received more than $517,000 in grant money through the state’s Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships grant program.

The money was part of a $2.7 million influx to 14 cities throughout Michigan that were experiencing conditions of probable financial stress.

“What happened is the city received two grants from the state of Michigan,” explained acting City Manager John Szymanski. “One is for City Hall, and the other is for water meters. We applied for these two grants.”

A total of $202,000 of the grant money will be used for infrastructure improvements at Harper Woods’ City Hall. The focus will be on improvements to the building’s boiler and windows.

“The boiler has been here since the building was built in the 1950s,” Szymanski said. “With this money, we can have a new roof, a new boiler and new windows, which will reduce heating and cooling costs significantly.”

Harper Woods Council member Valerie Kindle said the improvements are long overdue.

“The windows are still there from when the building was first built,” she said. “There’s a horrible draft, and it’s needed to be improved for a long time. It will help with our energy efficiency, which will make this a good financial decision, as well.”

This is a way to reduce the city’s operating costs, Szymanski said.

“We are spending a lot of money on heating and cooling, and this will let us manage that far more efficiently,” Szymanski said. “The same way a resident might have problems with their heating and cooling, we are too, and we want to use our limited resources to address that.”

The remaining $315,135 of the grant money will enhance the city’s water system through replacement of water meters, an effort the city has been undertaking for the last several years.

“We’re very happy we can finally complete the water meters, which will keep everybody’s readings accurate,” said Kindle. “It will make it easier for both city personnel and residents, and make sure these bills aren’t running on estimates anymore.”

The replacement of the water meters will be a significant step forward in the city’s efforts to improve how accurately, clearly and fairly it can report water costs, according to Szymanski.

“There are a lot of stopped water meters in the city, and that causes a lot of flawed readings,” he said. “These meters don’t last forever, and we want to make sure we are applying the correct charges to residents. This will make sure we have correct revenue. If people aren’t billed correctly, the city loses money. Accurate meters also allow residents to budget better.”

Szymanski said a timeline for when these improvements will be implemented is difficult to determine.

“We’re evaluating the timeline of implementing these changes,” he said. “With the pandemic, it’s harder to plan. Once it’s done, we can get proper quotes from work crews and companies. We also need to adhere to the governor’s orders about what can open when. We do want to do this as soon as it is possible and practical.”

Kindle said it’s a good step forward in both efficiency for the city and clarity and fairness for residents.

“Anytime you can get a grant to assist you in maintaining city services and properties, that’s a win-win for the city,” she said.