Troy City Council approves scaled-back transit center plan

Jan 18, 2012

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Troy City Council has effectively reversed course from their decision last month to block construction of a transit center using federal dollars.

The Freep reports that during a meeting Tuesday night, council members voted 4-3 in favor of approving a plan with a slightly reduced cost---the new project will use roughly $6.3 million from a federal transportation grant as opposed to $8.5 million in the earlier proposal.

From the Free Press:

The lower cost was aimed at overcoming the key objection of Councilman Wade Fleming, who said last month he could approve the center only if it cost no more than about $6 million.

"I am focused on how this transit center may benefit future generations, and not on the next election," Fleming said.

The three "no" voters, led by Troy's new mayor Janice Daniels -- a longtime activist in the Troy Tea Party -- stuck with their contention that the project was a waste of tax dollars, although Troy City Hall would not be footing the bill.

"I am not going to accept this money from a government that is $15 trillion in debt," Daniels has said repeatedly, although she made no comments before voting Tuesday. Before the meeting, however, she said that if the project passed, she would "do all in my power as mayor of the City of Troy to make this center the best it can be."

Both the rejected plan and the scaled-back version received support from the Troy Chamber of Commerce, says the Free Press, to the extent that the Chamber agreed to cover annual maintenance for the facility---an estimated $30,000---mollifying opponents who objected to placing that burden on taxpayers.

The Freep writes:

"We've got the full support on this from our major members," including auto suppliers such as Meritor  and Magna International, [Troy Chamber of Commerce President Michele] Hodges told the council. Before the vote, Hodges gave council members a letter that said, "If a revenue gap is identified between Amtrak revenues and transit center operations expenses, based upon the current plan and design, the Troy Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with members of the business community ... commit to working with the city in filling the gap."     

The article says that while the original plan estimated completion of the transit center by October 2013, that date will likely be pushed back a few months.

The Oakland Press has a video from the meeting that includes a statement from Mayor Daniels along with the opinions of Troy-area residents. (Apologies if you get stuck watching an ad.)

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom