The City of Big Rapids is receiving an award for the Baldwin Street Bridge project. The American Public Works Association is recognizing the the bridge as its 2017 Project of the Year in the category of $5M to $25M. However, the project didn't go quite far enough with respect to lighting says Big Rapids business owner Pat Currie.
“We have these lights all the way to the bridge, across the bridge, and then it's dark. We've got Rails-To-Trails up there, we've got Wolverine, the biggest employer Big Rapids has had in years and they're adding on – what greater gift to them is to put lights all the way up to their factory?”
Currie told the Big Rapids Board of Commissioners at Monday's meeting that the situation is bad for business.
“As a businessman, the first thing you want is lighting. We have not seen any development going on over there. We have some investors who possibly might be investing over there, but when they look at that they're going to say, 'This is dark, this is dangerous, why would we want to put money over here?'”
Mayor Mark Warba agrees with Currie and notes they've heard it before.
“That's a comment that other people have expressed to us. When you look at the new lighting that went in as far as the bridge project, it looks good going to the west but not so good going to the east,” he says.
City Manager Mark Gifford is also aware of the issue and says he's already working on it.
“I've got it on my list – I'm going to find out a number. We're going to find out how much that costs to do and whether or not, maybe then we could do it a little at a time, maybe that's an option or maybe it's a bigger project.”
Gifford adds the city would like to have extended the lighting from the bridge project further east on Baldwin Street but decided against it due to budget constraints in the original project.