Brent Martin presented the preliminary engineering plan and cost estimates. In total the project will have 33 miles of conduit with four chambers from the south edge of South Bend to and around Plymouth. The Saint Joe Valley Metronet will populate one of the chambers leaving the other three available for lease.
The entire project was originally estimated to be $2.2 million. The prelim engineering now has that amount at $2.475 million with $1.15 million being the County’s share and $1.326 million being the city’s share. Martin explained that the city has added several extensions to various city facilities increasing their cost.
After a motion was made to support for the city’s share of the project questions was allowed before a vote was taken.
City Councilman Mike Delp asked who would be in charge and Martin explained that there would be two independent but simultaneous projects, the city’s and the county’s.
City Attorney Sean Surrisi said some communities are making separate TIF Districts to fund this type of project. He said with the length of this project it would be extremely complicated but could be done. He noted that the preliminary numbers show the personal property taxes the Metronet will pay are equivalent to $16,000, not nearly enough to begin to cover the cost of the project.
Commission member Dan Tyree said, “Our original plan was to take some from each of the three TIF Districts to pay the city’s share of the project.”
City Clerk Treasurer Toni Hutchings aid only two of the three TIF Districts have funds available for the project. District III, is paying for the bond on the new park and won’t have funds for the Metronet project.
Mayor Mark Senter said there was a time when he was not supportive of the project but said, “I’ve been sold on it now and it’s a must.”
Tyree said, “It’s hard for people to understand the value. It’s not like a road or railroad. It’s not concrete or something we can see but it is another aspect of infrastructure and a valuable asset.”
After additional discussion of maintenance costs, locate costs, and liability the Plymouth Redevelopment Commission voted 4-0 in favor of the project.
With this positive step it is anticipated that the County will move on the Metronet project next month in the Commission and Council meetings.