Residents want job completed
Citizens address council about 14th Avenue
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - There was a rare sight at Monday's Menominee City Council meeting as the audience gallery was so full additional seating had to be brought in. The topic that drew the crowd, 14th Avenue road renovation, wasn't even on the evening's agenda.
Steve “Bluffo” Fifarek of Menominee holds up a petition containing 350 names of people who want the city to complete the 14th Avenue project from 13th Street to West Drive. The project currently ends at 21st Street. Fifarek presented the petitions to the city council Monday night. EagleHerald/Mike Desotell
Originally, the heavily traveled city street was to be redone from 13th Street to West Drive using the last of the money from the 2001 street millage. When it became clear the balance in the fund would not be enough, the project was reduced in scope to go to 21st Street.
"I don't think there's anybody on this council who thinks we should only go so far on 14th Avenue as the money will take us and then stop and not do the rest of 14th Avenue," Mayor Jean Stegeman told the audience. "I think the problem is we have $710,000 left in our budget and that is all that we had all along until we passed the new millage."
Stegeman said that while 14th Avenue was not included in the information that was used to encourage citizens to vote in favor of the 10-year $4.5 million millage, that it would make sense to finish it since the city was already performing a lot of the preliminary work for the project.
City Manager Michael Cramer noted that three bids for the project were opened Monday and each bidder promised they could finish the project by the time the snow flies. That being said, Cramer added that it would be up to the council to decide if it will complete the work on 14th Avenue with money from the most recent bond.
"Our intent all along was to get bid prices to do the entire length of the project from 13th Street all the way to West Drive," he said.
Residents who spoke at the meeting made it clear they want city officials to know how important it is to them to complete the project all the way through.
"If you go down 14th Ave., you might as well be riding horseback," said Cliff Cosson. "If you let go of your steering wheel at 15 miles per hour, you're in trouble. That's the way it is when you're on horseback, it's the same way when I was a kid. If I let go of the reins, I had a hell of a time boy, I'll tell you that right now."
Steve "Bluffo" Fifarek has not only been vocal but also quite active in his quest to get the city to find money to redo the road. The project stops just a block before his home. He's gone so far as to place a large sign in front of his house which reads, "Keep your promise fix all 14th Ave." Fifarek even hand-delivered a petition to the council which was signed by more than 350 residents demanding the completion of 14th Avenue through West Drive.
Fifarek asked the council, "Why were we misled into believing that if the millage didn't pass that there would not be enough funds to complete 14th Avenue all the way to West Drive?" He concluded by offering the council some friendly advice. "By completing this project as promised, or led us to believe, it surely would soothe some flaring tempers."