Meeting Overview: Work Session of the Board, Oshtemo Trustees, 11/9/21

Public Media Network provides a brief overview of the Oshtemo Trustees Work Session on November 9, 2021.

The Oshtemo Board of Trustees discussed plans for developing the newly purchased Fruit Belt Trail at the November 9 meeting. Karen High, Oshtemo Parks Director, presented Fruit Belt trail phasing options. 


The trustees were presented with information on the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Development Grant, which could be used to develop the Fruit Belt trail. The max amount awarded for this grant is $300,000 per application, with a minimum required match of 25 percent.


The trustees have decided on a crushed stone trail. The board discussed an 8 ft trail width versus a 10 ft trail width, and how long the trail will be. The trail could either extend from Flesher Field to 6th Street, O’Park, or the furthest option, to the township line. 


The Oshtemo Board of Trustees discussed 5 trail options: 


  1. 10 width from Flesher to O’Park = $743,000
  2. 8 width from Flesher to O’Park = $659,000
  3. 10 width from Flesher to 6th Street = $615,000
  4. 8 width from Flesher to 6th Street = $549,000
  5. 10 width from Flesher to ITC corridor = $256,200


Trustees were leaning towards a 10 foot width to avoid needing to widen the trail in the future. 


“Initially when I looked at this plan I was like, ‘what’s the difference between 8 feet and 10 feet?’ but when you put it in that perspective of being on the Kalhaven trail, you really need that width, in my opinion, to get people crossing each other in both directions safely,” said Trustee Kristin Cole. 


The board reached a consensus to choose option one, plus the additional 400 feet to the township border. The plan includes applying to two Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Development Grants during the same cycle. An official vote on this decision did not take place during this meeting.


“Leaving that last 400 feet seems like deferred increase costs to me… I would just assume that we apply for two grants in the same cycle and do the whole thing,” said Trustee Zak Ford. 


The fruit belt trail project agreement was approved by the DNR on October 29, 2021. Expected closing date for the property is Friday, November 12, 2021. The property will be open to the public within 90 days of closing, on February 10, 2022. The DNR grant to purchase the property is $58,000, including the sales price for the property, $40,000, and $18,000 for appraisal costs, assessments and the title search. The appraised value of the property is $250,000.


Supervisor Heiny-Cogswell opened discussion with the Board regarding American Rescue Plan Act funds. Discussion focused on how to get community input on ARPA funds. Out of the $2.4 million received from ARPA, around one million of those funds are unrestricted. 


Ford mentioned creating plans for how the money could be spent before reaching out for community input. 


Trustee Chri Bell mentioned working with surrounding townships and counties to use funds in a cohesive way. 


Trustees suggested creating an easy one-page document about the ARPA funding, to explain funding guidelines to residents.


Public Hearings were held on five topics, each passed with a 7-0 vote. No public comments were given.


  1. A Resolution for a Fire Protection Special Assessment levy against the taxable lands and premises within the Fire Protection Special Assessment District of the Township in the amount of 3.75 mills raising the sum of $3,242,400. 
  2. A Resolution for a General Lighting District Special Assessment levy in the Township in the amount of .3 mills raising the sum of $177,551.
  3. A Resolution for the Police Protection budget for the 2022 fiscal year of the Township in the amount of $1,599,762 and to further approve a renewal of the Police Protection Special Assessment levies of 3.8 mills and .9 mills.
  4. A Resolution for the Road Maintenance and Improvement levy against the assessed valuation of all the lands, premises, and personal property within the Township be set at 1.08 mills, raising the sum of $1,016,274.
  5. A Resolution for a general and special revenue funds, tax levy in the amount of .96 mills against the taxable real and personal properties within the Township, and the detailed blue line budget.


The Oshtemo Board voted for no change to the salary of the Township Supervisor, Township Clerk, Township Treasurer, and for the salary of Township Trustees. Trustees current salary sits at $3,000 annually, plus $130 per township meeting and $50 per committee meeting. Trustee Cheri Bell was the only Trustee to vote against this plan.


Present at the meeting was Supervisor Libby Heiny, Clerk Dusty Farmer, Treasurer Clare Buszka, Trustee Zak Ford, Trustee Cheri Bell, Trustee Kizzy Bradford, Trustee Kristin Cole, Attorney Jim Porter, Public Works Director Marc Elliott, and Deputy Public Works Director Anna Horner.