Project to benefit Oxford students, community
By Jim Newell
Oxford Township has received nearly $375,000 in federal funding for a proposed safety path on N. Oxford and Ray roads, although the starting date to construct the path is still being determined.
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-7th District), submitted the funding request during the federal government’s budget planning for the 2023 fiscal year.
Oxford Township Supervisor Jack Curtis said the township is committed to building the safety path.
“It’s been part of our plan to put one in. Oxford Township does not have a safety path millage, so we are at the mercy of donors, we are at the mercy of grants,” Curtis said. “This came along at a very unfortunate time that it wasn’t in to begin with but the need was realized and Elissa stepped up and got that need fulfilled.”
Oxford Township Communications and Grants Manager C.J. Carnacchio submitted the funding request application to Slotkin in April.
The proposed path would be a 5,100-linear-foot paved path for pedestrians along the west side of N. Oxford Road – from the point where an existing path ends near Oxford High School – to Ray Road, Carnacchio said.
The path would continue on the south side of Ray Road from N. Oxford Road to M-24.
Construction of the 8-foot-wide asphalt safety path would comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“Constructing this path will help make Oxford Township a safer place for everyone, from high school students to families going for a walk together. Expanding our safety path system makes our community a more accessible place for people of all ages and abilities,” Carnacchio said.
The total estimated cost of the project is $468,370. Oxford Township requested $374,696 from the federal government, said Carnacchio.
The 80/20 project requires that Oxford Township “match” 20 percent – $93,674 – of the total cost and has set aside additional funds, if necessary.
“We are extremely grateful to the Oxford Township and CJ Carnacchio for pursuing with great effort and diligence the procurement of the federal grant for the new safety path. This addition will be a tremendous benefit to the students and staff of Oxford Community Schools as well as the community at large,” an official from the school district said.
Oxford schools contributed $10,000 to the project in February 2020 and the Oxford Township Board of Trustees voted Sept. 9, 2020 to transfer $50,000 from the general fund to the safety path fund.
“We’re very thankful to (Slotkin) and her efforts in congress to get the funds appropriated for this path. When we get the funds determines on when the path goes in,” Curtis said. “We’re trying everything within our power to expeditiously put it in. It’s all designed and prepared and this money came at a wonderful time to fix an ill.”
Besides grant money, the township has also received donations and a commitment from a donor who will donate gravel to the project for the underlayment of the path, Curtis said.
“We do have some money that we’re holding back so that we can put this path in,” Curtis said.
The township will receive the funds in the next six to 12 months and a date on which construction will begin is still being determined. The township could potentially put forth the money to begin the project and then reimburse itself once it receives the federal funding.
“We’re looking at all options but the federal funding is guaranteed,” Carnacchio said. “We still have to go out for bids, but the township board had the foresight to allocate $150,000 in ARPA funds just in case the bids come back higher than estimated.”
Slotkin selected construction of the safety path as one of 15 community projects that she submitted to receive Fiscal Year 2023 funding. More than 90 project applications were submitted to the congresswoman’s office in April.
Slotkin submitted Oxford Township’s project to the House Appropriations Committee in the hopes that it will be funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Highway Infrastructure Program.
The proposed section of safety path has been a part of the township’s Safety Path Master Plan since October 2010 and is a “shovel-ready project,” Carnacchio said.
In 2020, the engineering design work for the project was funded by a $50,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan/Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Funds. The work was completed by the Oxford-based Sharpe Engineering.
The grant proposal that funded the design work was researched, written and submitted by Carnacchio in January 2020.
While Slotkin is no longer Oxford Township’s congressional representative after statewide redistricting went into effect beginning this year, she continued to support the project, Carnacchio said.
At the Jan. 11 Oxford Township Board of Trustees meeting, the board passed a resolution thanking Slotkin for assistance, saying: “Congresswoman Slotkin has always been there for us. We greatly appreciate her sincere desire to work for the betterment of all and we thank her for her exemplary service. She is always welcome in Oxford Township.”