Thousands of dollars granted for downtown improvements

The MEDC granted Kalkaska $750,000 for community upgrades.

Changes are coming to two northern Michigan communities once warmer weather arrives.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money.

With those funds, the communities will not have to ask tax payers for any additional funding.

â??To my understanding this is the largest amount ever issued in one check to one community, which says a lot,â?? said Jeff Seiting, Kalkaska Village President. â??People want walk-able, bike-able communities. That's what we're trying to accomplish with this."

People in Kalkaska said they've needed the upgrades for quite some time.

â??Over the past decade or so, it's become abandoned, run down. It shows in the marketplace," said Seiting.

$750,000 will go toward revamping sidewalks, gutters, and curbs, sprucing up landscaping, and adding park benches along Cedar Street between Third and Fifth streets in Kalkaska.

â??Tenacity has availed us this in the end. There is hope for these communities. It just takes work, a good vision, and staying at it,â?? said Seiting.

The MEDC wrote a check for Boyne City, too. They were presented with more than $580 thousand to help with upgrades to Ray Street and a portion of East Street.

â??We want to make sure we have a common theme throughout our community,â?? said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain. â??So no matter where anybody goes or where they want to set up a business, they've got good streets, good infrastructure and they've got the good sidewalk amenities too.â??

The city will move power lines underground, fix existing utilities, and beautify the sidewalks and streets.

There are time constraints on the money. So both communities are looking for a quick turnaround.

"Now's the time to get out the shovels and machinery and go to work," said Seiting.

Officials say they plan to begin construction as soon as the ground thaws. They hope to wrap up work on the projects by September.