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Zeeland closer to $3.6 million snowmelt project for downtown sidewalks

After a city council meeting last week, the project looks promising, but there is still a lot of discussion that needs to happen.

ZEELAND, Mich. — It's been a long journey for Zeeland's snowmelt system, and now the city is another step closer to expanding it into their main downtown district.

"We've been working on this behind the scenes for many years," said Abby deRoo, Zeeland's City Marketing Manager. 

After a city council meeting last week, the project looks promising, but there is still a lot of discussion that needs to happen. 

"We would snowmelt the sidewalks on both sides of Main Street between State Street and just past Maple, if we decide to pursue this project," said deRoo.  

The downtown area already has pockets of snowmelt in certain areas, like along Elm Street near the splash pad, and an area around the library.

There, two snow-melted passageways connect Main Avenue and Church Street to the South Municipal Parking Lot.

There is public patio space, a biergarten at Tripelroot that was privately funded and a sidewalk along Cherry Street that connects the library to City Hall that are all snow-melted, as well. 

"We had success with that project so we continued to explore what a snowmelt system would look like for Main Street and the traditional part of our downtown," deRoo said. 

In 2018, Zeeland City Council set a goal to pursue a feasibility study for a downtown snowmelt system.

"Those studies that we've been doing are to determine how much capacity is in the boiler system that we have installed and what can we do with that capacity," said deRoo, "and we've determined the best use of that capacity would be to snowmelt the sidewalks on Main Street."

This project is estimated to cost $3.6 million if it's approved. Currently, the city has $3.1 million in a snowmelt fund. The remaining $500k could be funded through a special assessment cost sharing model. 

"We are still in the decision-making process and the gathering information stage," said deRoo, "so we still need to have a lot of conversations with city council to determine if this is a project that will move forward."

If the project were approved, installation is targeted for the year 2023, because that's the year Main Street will also undergo a re-surfacing project. 

"Each time we bring it to city council for a small decision, it's one step closer to getting us towards that big final decision," deRoo added, "but there's still a lot of moving parts along the way that could sway the project one way or another."

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