Harrison Township trustees discuss sewer additions

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published December 7, 2022

Shutterstock image


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Harrison Township Board of Trustees met on Nov. 28 to discuss items including the possibility of adding sewer lines in the township from Townhall Street to Hazel Street and from Metro Parkway to South River Road.

According to Township Supervisor Ken Verkest, a search for funding support for the project revealed the availability of a $1 million federal earmark grant and an $8.5 million loan from the Michigan State Revolving Fund. With a construction estimate at $8.5 million and an engineering estimate in the “high six figures,” Verkest said he would like to see the board bid out the work.

As for how the township could pay for it, Verkest said he believes a bond could be pursued.

“We can bond for sewers over a long period of time, and when we do look at bonding, we can look at sometimes some relatively low interest rates,” Verkest said. “Low-interest rates spread out over decades could mean that we could cover the costs or a portion of the costs ourselves.”

Verkest urged the board to not accept the SRF loan under the suspicion that the changing makeup of the state Legislature could lead to some changes to the loan terms, such as the addition of a requirement to pay a prevailing wage. The board unanimously voted to not accept the loan and to authorize the firm Wade Trim to prepare bid-specification documents for the project.

Two members of the public commented on the matter. The first, C. William Bardill, objected to Verkest’s opposition to accepting the state loan by arguing that Verkest’s argument was needlessly partisan and anti-union. The second commenter, James Fain, argued against the sewer lines on the belief that it would increase water bill costs by 275%. He also questioned why Verkest was so willing to pursue the sewers.

“I feel like we’re doing this because we hear the word ‘grant’ and we want to reach out and we don’t want to lose that free money,” Fain said.

Verkest pushed back against the comments, stating that he was not making an anti-union argument and that bill increases would not be as drastic. Verkest said he also believes the township will need to construct sewers one day and that residents would be able to choose if they want to hook up to the sewer or maintain septic systems.


High-water grant
Another water-related item addressed on Nov. 28 was the approval of an application for a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy high-water infrastructure grant to improve the Vanter De Beuff Drain.

“The drain handles storm water for over 700 acres in the center of the township and is in need of dredging,” Verkest said. “This grant could fund the cleanout of the drain, as well as some additional detention and habitat restoration. It could also be used to help control the spread of phragmites in the drain.”

The $3,000 grant requires a 20% minimum match.