Twp. OKs controversial Norko Drive project

FLINT TWP. — At least one Road Advisory Committee member is voicing displeasure over recently approved plans to repave Norko Drive.

In a close 4-3 vote, the township board approved last week an estimated $88,000 road improvement project that will include removing the island at the intersection of Norko and Linden, resurfacing the asphalt, restriping the pavement to three lanes, and creating room for four-foot-wide paved shoulders to connect the new Genesee Valley Trail to the recreational trail at the Flint Township Park.

Ken Grover, the longest serving member of the Road Advisory Committee, called the project a misappropriation of millage funds which voters approved in 2006 primarily earmarked for improvements of residential roads. The trail improvement aspect in particular galls Grover who called it unethical and maybe illegal.

He also said it was the first time he can recall that the township board did not follow the recommendation of the road advisory committee which voted 4-4 against the Norko project, with one member absent.

Grover also said he routinely drives every township road before and after road work and can attest that Norko is far from the worst road in the township needing repairs. Similar points were raised dur- ing the discussion at the township board meeting.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller, who is a voting member of the road advisory committee, provided minutes from that body’s meeting reflecting reservations raised about the Norko project because other roads need attention more and the road is not heavily traveled.

Miller voted in favor of the project as a committee member and in the township board decision. She pointed out that creating the connector path from the Genesee Valley Trail to the park trails addresses safety issues for bikers and walkers. She also noted that the road is used by police officers and visitors to the police station which is located on Norko.

Grover disputed that. He said police officers typically use Menoutes Drive behind the station and businesses on Norko more often use Fleckenstein Drive as an access road.

Miller also said that some of the total $137,000 project cost is being offset by the Genesee County Road Commission through reduced engineering and inspection costs of about $27,500 and about $21,000 in 50/50 matching funds.

Trustee George Menoutes, who voted against the Norko project along with Trustee Frank Kasle and Treasurer Sandra Wright, said Calkins Road need repair more than Norko and he supports the road advisory committee recommendation.

Kasle agreed, adding: “We do have an advisory committee and we generally follow their recommendations as to which roads we do and where we spend our money.” He said he respected the opinions of the four members who voted against the project, citing worthier projects.

Trustee Barb Vert, who voted in favor of the project along with Miller, Clerk Kim Courts and Trustee Belenda Parker, said Norko is used by shoppers visiting adjacent businesses and also needs repair. She said it was not her understanding that millage funds had to be used solely for residential roads.

Vert, who is a member of the parks and recreation advisory committee, said the repaving project works with the trail and it is good to get it done all at once.

Miller acknowledged that the road advisory committee struggled with the issue for many months and was divided in its final recommendation but the township board is not bound by that recommendation and is the final authority on action taken.

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