City buys skid loader from Ausra

Published 1:58 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Russom Park is rapidly taking shape, with a flurry of activity Tuesday morning paving parking. Baseball and soccer can play there next year. Playground equipment will be installed in the spring.

Russom Park is rapidly taking shape, with a flurry of activity Tuesday morning paving parking. Baseball and soccer can play there next year. Playground equipment will be installed in the spring.

Dowagiac City Council Monday night approved the purchase of a Case skid loader from Ausra Equipment and Supply for $50,750.

City Manager Kevin Anderson said the purchase will be made using Motor Pool Fund balance. It will be replenished by a $28,000 transfer from various 2012-2013 Department of Public Services (DPS) line items expected to come in under budget; $13,000 transferred from three DPS line items in FY 2013-2014; and a used trailer will be bought to contain the total cost.

This piece of equipment can be used for a variety of construction projects, brush removal and snow removal.

“It is anticipated that significant labor and fuel savings can be achieved by adding this type of equipment to our fleet,” Anderson recommended.

The skid loader will be used in the streets, water, sewer and grounds departments and for the Sister Lakes Area Utility Authority and Indian Lake.

DPS Director James Bradford stated, “The purpose of a skid loader is to reduce costs to the city through less damage in sidewalk, driveway and alley repairs. Our larger equipment, although fully capable of completing this work, is heavier, larger and difficult to operate in confined areas and on road restorations. This unit could also be used for repairs in the limited road widths of the lake areas which we serve. It can be trailered to these locations, which will reduce costs of wear and tear on our larger equipment.”

In removing large piles of brush, the current process involves three pieces of equipment — a front-end loader, backhoe and dump truck. The skid loader eliminates the first two and an operator while allowing additional work to be completed during brush pick-up times.

“I am also proposing use of the skid loader for clearing sidewalks downtown in the winter,” Bradford said. “It is smaller than our current pick-up snowplows and will allow better maneuvering in the downtown area and lessen the chance of damage.”

The city administration looked at four skid loaders, Caterpillar ($46,764), Bobcat ($44,057.20), John Deere ($41,980) and Case ($41,750).

Buying locally means on-site service. Should the unit need major repairs, a stand-by unit will be provided, Bradford said.

The Case SU260 costs $41,750, plus $5,000 for a 72-inch brush/grapple and $4,000 for the trailer, bringing the total package to $50,750.


Westrate eulogized


Council members fondly recalled City Attorney Mark A. Westrate, who died Aug. 13 at 63. He had been city attorney since 1982.

“Mark was a wonderful man who did a lot of free work for my church,” Councilman Bob Schuur commented. “A good man has gone to his eternal rest.”

Councilman Dr. Charles Burling said, “I’ll echo what Bob said. We certainly lost a good man in Mark. Last time I talked to his brother, he was doing well. I went on vacation and came back and read his obituary in the paper. You have that little bit of soul-searching, wondering if you should go back to work — or just go back on vacation because your time’s running out, too. Mark was a great guy who served the community incredibly well. It’s going to be difficult to find someone to fill his shoes.”


DASAS contract


Council approved a $1,446.50 contract with Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services (DASAS) of Three Rivers to continue services that include emergency housing, crisis intervention, 24-hour telephone support, community support groups, school prevention programming, victim outreach and legal advocacy.

“Every time our police officers respond to a domestic abuse call,” Anderson said, “DASAS is notified and they respond immediately to counsel or, if necessary, provide safe shelter. Public Safety Director Steve Grinnewald reports that this service provides valuable support for the police department and recommends continuing with this agreement.”

The agreement is based on 25 cents per resident and Dowagiac’s 5,786 population.

“Quite frankly, it’s a good deal financially,” Mayor Don Lyons said.


Halloween parade


Council granted the request by President David Strlekar for the Optimist Club of Dowagiac to conduct its annual Halloween parade on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. on Beeson Street by Beckwith Park, turns left onto Front Street, travels south past City Hall, turns left at Park Place and left again at Depot Drive to loop back to the start.

Optimists, who include Grinnewald, plan to give out awards for best costumes and candy to all participants.


Downtown interest


“We got notice today from Marilyn Smith that we have interest from downtown buildings to do some additional work on second-floor residences,” Anderson said. “We’ll want to apply for MSHDA (Michigan State Housing Development Authority) funding for downtown rental rehab, so next meeting you’ll call for a public hearing so we can start that process. Just because she’s got some interest, it’s certainly open for more than that group to jump in.”

Anderson also reported, “We’re also in the process of applying for a DIG (Downtown Improvement Grant). We applied in the past for parking lot facilities, but we didn’t get enough points. There’s another round. We think we’ve found ways to adjust that application to pick up a few points so it scores better.”




Council confirmed Lyons’ recommended reappointment of Teri Frantz to Dowagiac District Library Board for a term expiring in September 2017.


Public hearing


The city received no input on a request by Dan Leversen, who owns property at 56271 M-51 South, for Dowagiac and Pokagon Township to enter into a 425 agreement for conditional transfer from the township to the city.

Leversen is requesting this transfer to facilitate land splits and to coordinate zoning, utilities connections and police protection for future development of the site.

He is in negotiations to sell a portion of this property and requests this transfer to facilitate that transaction, according to Anderson, who said, “This request would essentially square off city boundaries in this area. The city and township have authorized 425 conditional transfers of properties in the past and the agreement mirrors previous agreements with the exception of the initial starting and ending dates.”

Pokagon’s public hearing is set for Sept. 11. Pending its action and city action on Sept. 23, if there are no referendum petitions, the agreement can take effect Oct. 11.


First reading


A noise control ordinance amendment was introduced.

“It’s about as simple a change as we’re going to find,” Anderson said. “We’ve discovered that the fine in our code does not line up with the Michigan traffic code, which caused confusion in court.”

It states: “Any person convicted of a violation … shall be punished by a fine of not more than $175 and costs of prosecution or by imprisonment of not more than 90 days, or both. Each act or violation shall constitute a separate offense.”


Bills paid


Council spent $916,486.04, including $731,160.03 for invoices and payroll of $185,326.01.