Attractive waterfront key to Hart improvements

April 24, 2014
Lake Pointe Apartments overlooking Hart Lake are nearing completion.

Lake Pointe Apartments overlooking Hart Lake are nearing completion.

The Hart Commons area offers a centralized location for concerts and other events with a view of the waterfront.

The Hart Commons area offers a centralized location for concerts and other events with a view of the waterfront.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART – For anyone driving or strolling through downtown, it’s hard not to notice renewed energy in the quaint city.

The rejuvenation in the business district continues with city council’s unanimous nod earlier this month of a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) agreement to reconstruct the State Street Bridge over Hart Lake this summer. “It should be underway in early June and complete in mid-August,” said Hart City Manager Stan Rickard. “When complete, the entire waterfront will be greatly enhanced and pedestrian-friendly.”

Improvements totaling over $450,000 in 2013 entailed reconstruction of four parking lots, including seat walls; landscaping; street and decorative lighting; bench installation; sidewalks; and an electric vehicle charging station, along with other electrical improvements. A state grant of approximately $260,000 chipped in more than half the funding for last year’s downtown enhancements, Rickard said.

Probably the most noticeable improvement is the Hart Commons Park, ideally located in the center of downtown on the lakeshore. Funding for the $598,600 project was offset by a state grant of $436,100, Rickard said. The 2011 project included relocating overhead utilities underground; a terraced surface with artificial turf; a gateway arch highlighted by the Hart Commons sign, which was donated by Pentwater Artisan Learning Center; public restrooms; landscaping with drip irrigation; and decorative lighting and other electrical improvements.

“Hart Commons, in particular, has been great for downtown Hart,” said Rickard.  “It’s a great venue for events such as Hart Sparks, the 5K Run & Bridge Walk, the Hispanic Celebration, ‘Take It To Hart’ Car Show, National Asparagus Festival, evening concerts or just hanging out with friends.”

The recently-approved State Street Bridge project will extend from East Main Street to the hilltop and is funded through federal state grants totaling $255,100. City funding is estimated at $235,200, and will be budgeted in the Street Improvement Fund. MDOT will serve as the lead agency, Rickard said, and will open bids May 2. The project will include a reconstructed street, bridge deck replacement, continuous sidewalk on the street’s east side, a new guard rail, retaining wall replacement, moving overhead utilities underground and new streetlights.

Overlooking Hart Lake, Lake Pointe Apartments are nearing completion. The project is a 25-unit complex for seniors 55 and over that has involved several governmental entities, including the City of Hart, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and the Michigan State Land Bank Authority, Rickard said. Oakwood Construction of Okemos is the general contractor; KMG Prestige of Lansing handles property management; and site work is being performed by Hallack Contracting of Hart. The project is financed through investors and State of Michigan tax credits, with assistance from the City of Hart and state land bank grant funds for project administration, soil-water testing, soil borings, asbestos and lead paint removal, building demolition, and soil and contaminate removal and disposal, Rickard explained.

The Lake Pointe site is situated on the former Oceana Electric operation, which had underground fuel tanks for its truck fleet, and the Hart Commons site is a former gas station. “Both sites have been approved for close-out by the MDEQ,” Rickard said. “Contaminates were either treated on-site or removed.”

A less visible project was completed last year when the city performed a water main and electric conduit extension under Hart Lake. The city extended the 14-inch water main under the lake to improve water system capacity and water quality to residents north of the lake, the manager explained. The project included a six-inch electric conduit for a future primary voltage line.  Funding for the $248,400 project came from the city’s hydroelectric and water funds, Rickard said.

Another exciting project is in the works for the downtown — a farmers’ market at the corner of State and Main streets on Fridays. The Hart Main Street group is seeking farmers and community members interested in participating and would like to hear input from local citizens.  Check out the group’s Facebook page, Downtown Hart Farmers’ Market.

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