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By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

“This has gotten complicated,” said Michael Wendorf, President of the Dexter board of education, when presenting the memos of understanding (MOU) and the easement agreement between Dexter Community Schools (DCS) and the city of Dexter at the June 10 board of education meeting.

In early May, DCS and the city reached an agreement that allowed the Mill Creek Phase II project to continue and meet certain funding deadlines.

The city plans to construct a nearly mile-long non-motorized pathway from the southernmost point of Mill Creek Park near Grand Street down to an area just north of Creekside Intermediate School, on Dexter Community Schools property, with it coming out to Baker Road near the Dexter Wellness Center driveway.

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While both entities agreed that the B2B trail was an asset to the community, the location of the path was debated at that time.

When the agreement in early May was reached, Assistant to the City Manager Justin Breyer told The Sun Times that they would be providing the schools with a letter of expectations for both themselves and DCS.

“(We’re) also going to provide them with a letter that will be prepared to go to the Department of Environmental Quality so we can work two things in parallel,” added Breyer. “One, finalizing the alignment and getting a draft easement together and two, also making sure we get all of our permits and meet the timeframe the grant has.”

These letters, discussed at the June 10 board meeting, were provided contingent upon successful negotiations and approval of an easement by both sides.

Superintendent Chris Timmis gave the board the executive summary of the MOU’s.

The first MOU defined the work relationship between Dexter and DCS, what the city has purview over and what DCS can make decisions on. Overlapping geographies and responsibilities between the entities but also a different fiduciary responsibility to their stakeholders led to the DCS articulating they wanted to be treated different on projects moving
forward.

The second MOU would split the cost of the appraisal for the trail between the two, with DCS getting final approval on drawings and planned coordination on where shrubbery might go to steer people away from the Jenkins Early Childhood Learning Center.

For the actual easement, language was more specific about the pathway design, the rights of DCS and their limitations, and installation.

Five years after installation, a choice can be made by DCS whether a fence would be needed or not, if a problem is noticed the city would pay the costs to add a fence. Other language in the easement agreement included ‘No Trespassing’ signs along the pathway when it nears DCS property, parking lots near the trailhead do not offer parking during school hours and aren’t considered trailhead parking.

There is also language in the easement that would allow DCS to relocate the path if needed but at DCS’ cost. No motorized vehicles would be allowed on the path and the city will maintain the path all year round.

The proposed resolution had the specific cost for the appraisal ($17,900) and made it clear that the easement wouldn’t be signed until the MOU’s were agreed upon.

Unanimously passed, Wendorf remarked after the vote, “This was remarkably complex, but it’s an important project.

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