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Safety path millage renewal on November ballot

By Lisa Brody

Bloomfield Township trustees unanimously approved ballot language to renew the Jan Roncelli Safety Path millage on the November 8 ballot, at their meeting on Monday, August 8, for a tax levy of .4511 mills for a period of five years.

The first millage for the safety path program was first passed in 1998, explained director of engineering and environmental services Olivia Olsztyn-Budry. The original safety path master plan was developed in 1999, and updated in 2008 and 2018. She said the township's safety path network “provides residents walkable access to destinations such as schools, and shopping complexes within the township, and also connects to neighboring communities' safety path networks such as Auburn Hills, Birmingham, Franklin, Pontiac, Troy and West Bloomfield. The existing safety path throughout Bloomfield Township includes over 70 miles of safety path, 82,000 square feet of retaining walls, 25,000 feet of fencing, and approximately 1,180 ADA ramps at road intersections.”

The last time the Jan Roncelli Safety Path master plan was updated was 2018, she said, and since then, no additional routes have been added. A total of 10.8 miles of safety path from the master plan remain to be constructed. The estimated cost (in 2022 dollars) is $15,832,000, and includes engineering and contingencies.

What does need to be done is ADA-compliance of existing paths, which was incorporated by trustees at their meeting on April 25. This plan identified the existing safety path ramps that do not comply with ADA requirements. Of the 1,180 existing ramps, 466 ramps do not comply with ADA requirements. Olsztyn-Budry noted “the board of trustees approved allocating $200,000 for ADA compliance upgrades for fiscal year 2023 and $500,000 for future years. The total cost to bring both non-signalized and signalized ramps into compliance throughout the township is $5,015,523 (based on 2022 dollars) and includes engineering and contingencies. Assuming the township allocates $500,000 per year for the ADA Compliance program, it will take approximate 10 years to complete.”

In addition, there are repair and maintenance costs each year, which are approximately eight percent of total annual expenses allocated.

“I'm so glad the board so many years ago approved this. We live in a park-like setting in Bloomfield Township, but we have no parks. I'm very supportive of this millage renewal,” said clerk Martin Brook.

Trustee Val Murray agreed. “It's a wonderful asset. It does connect us with everywhere.”

“I think they make us a much stronger community,” said treasurer Brian Kepes.

“I agree they're helpful for the community. We have to be discerning where we spend our money. I'm a little less supportive of safety paths – I was hoping we could roll this into roads, but with the ADA compliance issue, so I will support this, but I there are other things to prioritize,” said trustee Michael Schostak.


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