CHARLEVOIX — Norwood Township officials and taxpayers have some decisions to make.
Residents of Lakeshore Drive in the Clipperview subdivision — an affluent neighborhood along Charlevoix County’s Lake Michigan shoreline — want their dirt road paved. Remaining questions are what paving method to use and how to pay for the work.
“A triple seal isn’t going to work down there, plain and simple,” said Pat Harmon, road commission manager.
Road officials worry that the less expensive triple seal surface will deteriorate more rapidly and cost more in maintenance, perhaps requiring a complete overhaul within four or five years. The full paving would last longer, they said.
“It’s more expensive up front, but would be less expensive over time,” said Jim Vanek, road commission engineer.
Estimates show the triple seal would cost about $135,000, while the 22-foot bituminous pavement road officials recommend would cost nearly $227,700.
“We currently have in our road budget $147,000,” said Frank Hamilton, township supervisor.
The township’s 1-mill road levy brings in about $47,000 each year, he said.
That means the township currently could pay for the triple seal work in full, but would require another two years of road taxes to pay for the more expensive paving. That is, unless the county fronts the money for the work or residents agree to a special assessment.
“If the people don’t want to do things for themselves, it’s difficult for others to do it,” said county commissioner Shirlene Tripp, who attended the road commission meeting.
Road commissioner and board vice-chairman Keith Ogden suggested that the township wait until they have enough funds to pay for the bituminous paving.
“That road has been there for 50 years unpaved. What’s another two or three years?” he said.
County commissioner Richard Gillespie, Norwood Township’s representative on the county board, said he believes paving is the best way to improve Lakeshore Drive’s frequent muddy and pot-hole riddled condition. He also is spearheading efforts to organize funding to complete the road project as soon as possible.
“We’re working on ways and means to get it done,” Gillespie said.
Perhaps the county can loan some money to the road commission to do the work now and the township can pay it off over time, as road levy revenues are collected in the future, he said.
Harmon said he worries that if the county loans the township the money to do the work, it will set a precedent for other townships to request loans for road work.
“What you do for one, you have to do for all,” he said.
Hamilton said he will wait until month’s end to make a recommendation on a paving method and how to cover the cost. That’s when the neighborhood’s many part-time residents return to their summer retreat homes. Hamilton will speak with the neighborhood’s homeowners association for guidance, he said.
Year-round Lakeshore Drive resident Chele Cyr, former township clerk, said the road is often in terrible shape.
“I would love to see it ditched and drained properly, as well as paved,” she said. “Anything would be an improvement.”
Cyr said some summer residents may not want the road paved as much as permanent residents, instead preferring the rural nature of their “up north” retreat.
“But when you live on it non-stop, it’s not so great,” she said.
The Clipperview subdivision is several miles south of Charlevoix, on the west side of U.S. 31.