Lookback: 2018

FLETCHER DISCOVERY TRAIL AND NEW PARK

The Fletcher Discovery Trail proposal, a vision that calls for walking, running and cycling paths connecting the Midtown Goddard corridor with Heritage Park, Wayne County Community College’s Downriver Campus, a new park along Pardee and the Eureka Road business district, is becoming a reality.

Work started on a phase one of the series of non-motorized pathways in early September, and is well on its way to completion. A new pathway already connects Heritage Park with WCCCD, and other paths and connectors are being installed between Goddard Road and the park, and then down Racho Road and through the old Fletcher Park School property, located between Racho and Pardee, south of Heritage Park and Northline Road.

Non-motorized travel is a big part of today’s America. People enjoy the exercise and welcome avoiding use of their car or truck. Mayor Rick Sollars has emphasized that the trail is a work in progress, and that it will proceed in a tiered fashion, especially when it comes to the finalization of what has been dubbed “Fletcher Park.” As part of the current phase, the 10-foot-wide asphalt pathways are being installed, along with a roundabout, throughout the formerly undeveloped, tree-lined parcel between Racho and Pardee.

Phase 1 will include:
• Shared use paths in the new park location
• Shared use paths along Racho Road from Northline to Eureka
• Shared use paths along Superior from Racho to Telegraph
 • And shared use paths along Katherine Street from Goddard to Heritage Park.

The discovery trail will be a combination of 10-foot wide paths, sidewalks, sharrows, new signage and bike racks. A shared-lane marking or “sharrow,” is a street marking placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.

Under a separate partnership agreement, the WCCCD Campus Police regularly patrols the Heritage Park area. As Fletcher Discovery Trail is completed south of Heritage Park, those same campus police will support Taylor Police patrols with regular patrols.

The old Fletcher School property, located directly across Pardee Road from Coachlight Circle, is one of the keys to the discovery trail. The property, which is traversed by a two different arms of the Sutliff and Kenope Drain, is not ideally suitable for development. At one point years ago, Masco Corporation owned and sought to develop the site, but eventually gave up because of the problematic terrain and sold it back to the City.

The discovery trail’s non-motorized concept will fit nicely into future plans for the Eureka Road business district (see related story), which is undergoing its biggest modernization in decades.


FLETCHER TRAIL

APPROXIMATELY 2,000 NEW LED STREETLIGHTS HAVE BEEN INSTALLED

Mayor Sollars announced in 2016 that the City of Taylor, in cooperation with DTE Energy, would be "going green" thanks to an aggressive new streetlight replacement program that converted old sodium-vapor lights to the new light-emitting diode, or LED, variety.

As of November 2018, approximately 2,000 street lights have already been converted, with the program continuing in the New Year. According to Assessor Jerry Markey, thus far, the savings to the City and its residents been approximately $800,000 over the two-year period. 

Most main street corridors were outfitted with old Mercury-vapor or high-pressure sodium lights. The new program originally focused heavily on Telegraph Road before branching elsewhere into the community. According to DTE, LED street lights are more energy efficient and will save money on the municipality's energy bill. LED street lights are more reliable and enhance safety because of their brightness.

If you consider the price of electricity alone, a standard “old fashioned” vapor streetlight uses 205 watts of electricity, while an LED streetlight uses only 65 watts to achieve the same effect. On a larger scale, a 455-watt mercury vapor streetlight is matched in light quality and effectiveness by a 135-watt LED streetlight. The payback for upgrading to LED streetlights is two to three years, and municipal savings accrue quickly with operational cost reductions of 25 percent to 40 percent per streetlight. LED lighting also lasts longer and DTE, which is responsible for most street lights in Taylor, offers a very aggressive rebate program.
 

"You can really see the difference all over the City," Mayor Sollars said. "The LED is brighter and whiter, and the savings are significant. This really fits what we're trying to do as a government. It is a fiscally responsible move for our residents, and it is good business for the City."

DOWNRIVER UTILITY WASTEWATER AUTHORITY

The Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority (DUWA) this fall closed on a long-anticipated transaction to assume ownership and oversight of the Downriver Sewage Disposal System. Wayne County and the DUWA communities (of which Taylor is the largest member) worked out details of the $57.5M transaction. Purchasing the system should save the communities and their residents millions of dollars in the future.

The system serves 13 tributary communities. Joining Taylor in DUWA are Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Ecorse, Dearborn Heights, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Van Buren Township and Wyandotte. The system is the second largest wastewater system in Michigan with a service area population of 350,000. Wayne County operated the system since 1962, but sought to jettison the system and use the money from the sale to improve the financial outlook of its beleaguered pension system.

DUWA will sell 25-year bonds through its underwriter, JP Morgan, to support purchase of the system, though a 4.05 percent annual rate, according to the authority’s financial plan. Wayne County had an option to sell the system to a private company or to the participating communities. Instead, the participating communities will define their own future, and be able to run it on a “net zero” basis and control rates. If the county was to sell the system to a third party, the region’s residents could – and likely would have – been hit with double-digit rate annual increases for the next decade, a prediction that wasn’t well-received by DUWA-member communities.

DUWA contracted with Veolia North America to handle daily operations, a company with involved with more than 230 communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. The authority has worked out agreements with Wayne County to make sure institutional knowledge and transitional problems can be easily solved to benefit the system.