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Business Owners, Residents, Offer Opinions on $4.5 Million Fenton Streetscape

City hosts two public meetings on Wednesday to gather the community's input on the 2013 project.

Business owners and residents weighed in on Fenton's approximately $4.5 million project, slated for 2013, at two public meetings on Wednesday.

The project will improve walkability and aesthetics, reconstruct streets, rehab deteriorating pavement in other roadways and help lower traffic speeds, said Kent Early, of OHM, the city's engineering consultant.

Around 10 people attended the morning session, with about 25 at the evening meeting. Howard and Sonja Melrose, who live across from said they see the numbers of people that The French Laundry brings to their neighborhood. They hope the improvements planned throughout downtown Fenton will help other businesses boom and prosper.

Road construction on North LeRoy Street is planned to begin this spring. Early said the plan is to not have the Streetscape and North LeRoy projects both taking place at once.

The schedule for the Streetscape project is to complete the design work this year, making changes based on feedback from the community, Early said. Fenton will seek bids for the Streetscape project in late 2012 or January 2013, with construction taking place from April to November in 2013.

"This is going to take every minute of construction season we have in 2013," he said.

Plans are for the project to be substantially complete in 2013, with some landscaping and other items possibly occurring in 2014, Early said. The project will include approximately $2.75 million in roadway reconstruction, $942,000 in pavement rehabilitation and $838,000 in streetscape improvements. It will include LeRoy Street, from Elizabeth Street to Sixth Street, with some work along Shiawassee Avenue and Elizabeth Street (to the east).

Part of the project is bringing walkways up to Americans with Disabilities standards. The project will add eight parking spaces to the downtown, he said.

Burns said the DDA is funding the project. It also will apply for grants.

Carol Schuler, owner of said that landscaping is fine, "but we are working here." She said businesses need to have trucks making deliveries. And landscaping trees and bushes will take away from the parking spaces near her store.

Resident Sean Orzol said the intersections of Ellen and LeRoy streets, and LeRoy Street and Silver Lake Road, are not pedestrian friendly. He believes Ellen Street should be the same width as Caroline Street.

Early said the LeRoy/Silver Lake Road intersection is included in the streetscape plans, to make it more pedestrian friendly. And OHM engineers will discuss the Ellen Street issue with city staff. Feedback from attendees at the streetscape meetings will undergo more discussion, he said.

Resident Cherie Smith said she likes the idea of clay pavers in sidewalks, but not tinted concrete. A color that looks good now isn't what people favor years later. "The color part gets trendy," Smith said.

In addition, Smith, who is on the Fenton Beautification Commission, asked whether there are plans to maintain the new landscaping.

Wright said plans are for it to have an irrigation system and not be watered with hoses.

And Smith said the landscaping plants on the connector road, near Main Street and Silver Lake Road, didn't work out. Tall plants were too high to see over.

Wright said he will look at the project door by door, business by business. Not everyone will get their own landscape design, but they will have plantings that fit into the overall concept.

"I'm not going to block your sign or plant 6-foot grasses downtown so you cannot see," he said.

Early said an update on plans will be available around March or early April. the city's marketing firm, will keep people updated, said Michael Burns, DDA director and assistant city manager. The Streetscape project will go to the DDA for approval, and Fenton City Council, since it is on city roads.

Daniel Czarnecki, Fenton's Department of Public Works director, asked people to provide the city with their names and e-mail addresses. This will help Fenton keep people informed on the Streetscape project. "We want to give you all the information you want," Czarnecki said. But not everyone reads newspapers, listens to the same radio stations or goes to city hall to check the postings in the entryway every day.

Kerry Goodman, owner of said she is very excited about the Streetscape plans. The project won't be directly in front of her business, but she thinks improvements will encourage more people to come to downtown Fenton and stay to shop. The for new buildings near the southeast corner of LeRoy Street and Silver Lake Road, will fit in nicely with the Streetscape plans, Goodman said.

Having new restaurants and businesses in Fenton will create more vitality for the area. "That is what we need," she said.

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