City officials discuss public meeting for Ives Drain

City officials discussed possible solutions for addressing the Ives Drain erosion problem at the Big Rapids City Commission meeting on June 4, including one possible solution presented to the board in late February by Spicer Group. They considered scheduling a public meeting specifically to give residents a chance to play a more active role in the conversation regarding this proposed solution and others currently being considered. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — After several discussions surrounding a solution to fix the damage caused by the proposed Ives Drain, city commissioners are looking to have the residents of Big Rapids play a more active role in the conversation.

During the Big Rapids City Commission meeting on June 4, city officials agreed the most effective way to move forward is likely by holding a public meeting to give city residents a chance to ask questions and voice their concern or support for the options for resolving the Ives Drain erosion problem.

City Manager Mark Gifford explained with the expansive information provided at past city commission meetings and by a study performed by a team of surveyors, engineers and architects from Spicer Group, the next logical step would be involving the people who would be affected by any proposed solutions.

This particular study for fixing the damage caused by the Ives Drain, an unofficially titled portion of the Ives drainage system where a sanitary sewer line had been exposed due to erosion and has been continuously carrying sediment into the Muskegon River, proposed an approximately $3 million county drain that would channel all the runoff water into the river.

If this proposed plan moves forward, the people who own property within the drainage district would pay for the construction by special assessment over a 20-year-period.

However, this is only one option before the board for solving this problem. Officials also are considering a city-only project, which would involve working on small sections of the drain over time, dealing with the most problematic areas first, at a cheaper cost to the city and residents.

While a final decision on how to address the issue has not been made, one thing officials agreed on was doing nothing does not seem to be a viable option for the city.

“There’s no hugely pressing time condition on any of this. If we made a decision one way or another on this in the next six months to a year, I think we are doing our job properly,” Gifford said. “But that’s not to say there’s not a problem.”

At the meeting, city officials confirmed plans to take a walking tour of the Ives Drain on Wednesday, June 13, to see the impact to the area.

A date for a public meeting related to answering questions about the proposed drain project was not set at this meeting, but city officials said it is important to get the information to the public at this point in the discussions.

A few areas of public interest officials said would likely be addressed were the cost of the proposed solutions, the timeline of the project and how the city will monitor whether the decided upon solution is working when it is put into effect.

“I like people to be able to come from an informed place,” said Commissioner Jennifer Cochran. “The more we can provide them, the better.”

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