By Sterling McGinn

The Village of Newberry has finished its 2023 Clean Water State Revolving Fund project of improving the sanitary sewer lines on certain streets in town.

An update on the project was one of the items on the agenda of the November regular meeting of the Newberry Village Council on Tuesday, November 21.

Fifteen blocks of the sewer system were relined using the cured-in-place method. The rehabilitation of the sewer lines restores the structural integrity and reduces sanitary backups and maintenance issues.

“We were able to add two additional blocks of West Victory Way and that is going to be an expense outside of the bond and grant,” said Village Manager Allison Watkins.

The sewer project began on October 9, with maintenance work including cleaning of the lines and cutting protruding taps.

The relining was done by Insituform and was completed on West Helen Street, West Ave A, B and C, and West Victory Way.

The village has not yet received the final bill for the project.

This project was funded by a Clean Water State Revolving Fund low interest loan and grant funding from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act. The estimated cost of the project was $1,025,000.

The other portion of the 2023 project included the purchase of a 40-acre parcel of farmland north of town for biosolid application.

“It is about 35 acres of hayfield, and the rest is wooded,” Watkins said.

Sludge from the wastewater treatment plant can be applied to land as biosolids in Michigan.

In order for the Village to keep the agricultural designation, the property will still need to be farmed. Watkins said the village will discuss the procedure for allowing someone to use the field the coming summer.

In other news, the council was also updated on the downtown tree removal project, which is slated for this year.

The board had previously voted to remove the trees, which are causing damage to the sidewalks. Roots are pushing up the metal grates around the trees, which the board feels is a potential safety issue to pedestrians.

Watkins said that she has been working with MDOT to get the correct permits.

“I don’t want the contract work done under our permit,” Watkins said. “I don’t want the Village to be liable if something happens and MDOT doesn’t want to manage the permit outside of the Village. If the contractor works under our current permit, and they damage the road, then the State will come after us and we have to go after the contractor. If the contractor gets a permit directly from MDOT, then they manage the problem, and we are left out of it.”

“We are still planning on moving forward once we figure out the permitting,” she said.

Davis Tree Service received the contract to remove the trees.

In other business, the council voted to amend Village Ordinance number 23A, which governs winter parking times within the village limits. The change, which will restrict parking on the streets an hour longer, will be from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. from November 15 to April 15.

“We are going to start plowing sooner,” Watkins said. “We are going to try an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. schedule and see how that works.”

The 11 p.m. change, however, will not take effect until 20 days after the publication of the amendment.

In other news, sewer customers will receive a memo with their next utility bill regarding the 75-cent per month sewer rate increase beginning in January. The increase will help cover operational and capital improvement costs.

The increase was supported by the council at the October 17 meeting.