SMART pole barn, once thought done deal, returns to debate forefront

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 17, 2012

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The township’s Board of Trustees is still divided on whether they approved the building of a pole barn in which to house SMART Dial-a-Ride buses more than a year ago.

“At no point in time has this board authorized the expenditure of any money for that pole barn building,” Clerk Michael Koehs said at the July 11 meeting. “What’s the total cost of the building? We can’t approve a building unless we know the price.”

Township Supervisor Mark Grabow said a motion the board passed May 25, 2011, authorized him to reach out for bids on building the pole barn garage.

“Those documents were actually included in the May 25 stuff,” Grabow said.

“We went out for estimates and cost totals at that point.”

“To this day, Mark, I’ve never seen any quotes from anybody,” said Trustee Dino Bucci. “That’s kind of what I’m asking for.”

The debate is a continuation from meetings in June in which Koehs and Bucci asked for proof of the board authorizing the expenditure of money to build the garage.

At the June 27 meeting, Grabow provided the board members with minutes from the 2011 meeting showing they approved a motion “to proceed with the Vehicle Garage-SMART/Dial-A-Ride Transportation Program provided that no township funds are expended,” according to the minutes from that time.

Under that broad language, Grabow said he is authorized to reach out for new bids.

The supervisor’s office plans to build the 6,000 square-foot pole barn garage behind the Water and Sewer Department on Card Road, just north of 23 Mile Road.

Grabow said all the money would come from Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation community funds that the township has accrued over the past seven years.

At the end of July, when SMART deposits the fiscal year 2013 money, the township will have more than $500,000 saved in that fund.

Another portion of the project will be paid for by Community Development Block Grant money that, much like the SMART funds, has sat unused by the township, and it’s money that the township is in danger of losing.

According to a CDBG agreement with Macomb County, the township must allocate $194,287 in grant money by September and spend the money by Dec. 31, or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will take back the grant.

In 2011, the entire project was estimated to cost $778,340, according to a CDBG request submitted by the township.

Some of that cost went to repaving the entrance to the Water and Sewer Department building and the laying of utility pipes that lead to the Water and Sewer Department and the pole barn.

Grabow said the Dial-A-Ride program provides the township’s senior citizens rides to work or other activities, allowing them to “feel like functioning members of society.”

Currently, two Dial-A-Ride buses are housed in the township.

Grabow said the large pole barn would allow the township to expand the program with three more buses as the demographics in the township shift to an older population.

“Not only do I want to expand the program, but I also have to plan for that building to be there 25 to 30 years from now,” Grabow said.

And he thinks the board already has given approval to build it with the motion it passed in 2011.

Koehs disagrees and said that the board has to approve the project piece by piece. He said it approved the new driveway and the new utility pipes, but never did the board approve the expenditure of community funds for the structure itself.

“Nobody gave the supervisor a blank check to go on and spend $800,000,” Koehs said.