Bessemer Keeps Momentum Going on Several Projects

From The Ironwood Daily Globe , February 20, 2014
The city of Bessemer is continuing to "keep the momentum going" with many projects planned across the city in 2014.

According to Michael Uskiewicz, city manager, the city will be finishing up Commons Park in downtown Bessemer this year and will have a dedication on June 4. "We need to get the final portions of that finished, but it's really coming together really, really well," Uskiewicz said. "We're very close to finishing that."

The city is also planning on upgrading Bluff Valley Park after receiving a $45,000 grant and $19,000 in matching funds.

Last year, the city started a partnership with the U.S. Department of Rural Development to fix some infrastructure issues in different parts of the city including Mary and Longyear Streets and portions of Peck Street.

"That tremendous partnership that we're in caused us to get close to $2.5 million in infrastructure improvements," Uskiewicz said. "We're going to continue to build on that."

The project will include areas west of Moore Street and Yale Location during phase one. Phase one includes sewer and water lines and street repair. The cost is $5.3 million, with $3.5 million coming in a grant and the other $1.8 million on a 1.8 percent loan.

Phase two and three will be done in the future, from 2015-2017. Phase two consists of repairing sewer and water lines and streets in areas east of Moore Street, and should take place in 2015 and 2016.

In 2017, phase three includes a future Michigan Department of Transportation rebuild of U.S. 2. "By 2017, we will have fixed up most of the city," Uskiewicz said. "It's a pretty aggressive plan."

The Federal Emergency Management Association [FEMA] also has invested $68,000-70,000 to Bessemer for repair work in the city. The repairs will make systems seem "new," according to Uskiewicz. "We're just waiting for those dollars to come," Uskiewicz said. "They may be picking up our 25 percent local match. That is still a wait-and-see, but we're hoping and praying because that is a substantial amount of money."

Uskiewicz said the city is also looking to improve it's stormwater system, and has applied for a Wastewater and Stormwater Asset Management Plan grant. The grant application is for $827,350, and includes an evaluation of Bessemer's stormwater system, costing $292,090 and a wastewater asset management plan for $535,260.

That is a heft sum of money," Uskiewicz said. "We're in a lottery, because there were 97 other projects statewide. But, we're hopeful. We are listed as a 'disadvantaged community,' and that gives us some additional leverage, so we're hopeful for the best."

The Bessemer Public Library is also going through some changes in 2014, including technology upgrades and expanded hours.

Since October 2013, the library is up and running on the Merit internet system, which is "quite a benefit for us," Uskiewicz said.

Starting March 1 [2014], the library will be open the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the library is also anticipating new equipment purchases, including computers, monitors and books.

Another thing the library is "excited about" [is] having a new, "streamline" borrowing system called MeLCat System.

"Library users will find that interesting, and it's something we're very excited about," Uskiewicz said.

Recently, the Bessemer City Council appointed two members to the Western Gateway Trail Authority, something Uskiewicz is also "very excited about." We are pleased with that, about the authority planning on linking all the communities together with a trail here, into northern Wisconsin and hopefully down to Detroit," Uskiewicz said.

For Uskiewicz, the goal in Bessemer [is] to just keep moving forward in 2014 and beyond. "We're just continuing to carry the positive activity we started last year and keeping the momentum going," Uskiewicz said. "We're really excited about everything."