By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Schoolcraft Township residents’ top choices for a $500,000 Federal grant are study of a sewer system, more road maintenance or expansion of high-speed internet, they indicated in a survey.
Township trustees reviewed results of two surveys at an August 7 meeting, one dealing with the payment through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the other dealing with a proposed transition to a charter township.
More than 200 surveys dealing with use of the payment were returned. The township received the payment two years ago.
Results can be viewed by the public on the township website: https://schoolcrafttownshipmi.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/ARPA-Survery-Results-Final.pdf.
Board members noted that funds through the federal program were intended to repair damage from the COVID pandemic and to prepare and strengthen the township against future disasters.
The township is spending available funds on some of those needs: It’s spending nearly $350,000 this year on the secondary roads it controls, while Kalamazoo County Road Commission has intensified spending on the primary roads in the township. The township has already allocated some funds to preliminary engineering studies to develop a sewer system along the US-131 corridor, needed for further business development. The study is investigating cooperation with St. Joseph County to build a system in northern St. Joseph County that would extend service to parts of the Schoolcraft township. Board members noted that there are federal, state, and county initiatives to provide internet access to all homes and that costs are unlikely to fall to the townships.
It was suggested that some money could be set aside for any matching grants that might come available for roads, internet or sewer studies.
Board members were asked to present concrete proposals for the September meeting.
The township received just 100 responses to the charter township question survey. The responses split 50-50 on the question. Supervisor Don Ulsh said he favors creation of a charter township to combat the possibility that some part of the township may be annexed. But he added he believes he doesn’t have a consensus and would not take any action on the matter at this time.
Dr. Eric Smith from the Barton Lake Association Board and John Kuchta from the Sunset Lake Association Board offered advice regarding weed treatments. Chemical treatments have helped keep the lakes from further decline and need to continue until a better way can be found. The township board asked for letters from both lake associations requesting continuation of the program and the special assessments that fund it.
It was noted that the Village of Vicksburg’s contribution to the weed control at Sunset Lake is currently around $500, a reduction from several thousand dollars in the past. Board members hope that the Village of Vicksburg resumes its commitment to become a more significant partner in protecting the quality of Sunset Lake.
The township’s Planning Commission has asked to send out a mailed survey to township residents for input to update to the master plan. The original survey that was publicized through the media and completed online yielded just over 30 responses from over 9,000 residents. It is the commission’s hope that a mailed survey will elicit a much larger response. The survey should be mailed in the coming weeks.