The Troy City Council voted 4-3 Monday night not to approve a subcontract in the amount of $8.4 million for the design of the Troy , which is funded by a federal grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.
It is unlikely that the council, which has just two years from the time they signed the contract to complete the project, will come to an agreement in time to use the funds.
Before City Council voted, Councilman Wade Fleming – who has voted both ways on the project in the past – surprised fellow council members by suggesting a "compromise" amendment – a $5 million cap on the project instead of the $8.4 million grant.
“I’m always willing to compromise, but I don’t think this is a compromise," replied Councilman Dane Slater, who supports the project.
“We either need to postpone this to give an opportunity to even consider Councilman Fleming’s amendment, or we should flat out vote this down and start over," said Mayor Janice Daniels, who opposes the project.
A half-hour into deliberation, Fleming said, “I’m willing to go now to $6 million, and that’s it.”
After an attempt by Slater to cap the project at $7.5 million in an effort to entice a "yes" vote from Fleming failed, council voted 4-3 not to approve the design subcontract for final design of the project.
The project, more than a decade in the making, has been met with and and opposition from and some members of Troy City Council, including Troy Mayor Janice Daniels.
Before council voted, around 40 individuals made public comment about the transit center.
Planning Commissioner Michael Hutson spoke on behalf of the commission, which unanimously supports the project, saying: "We believe it is good for the City of Troy; it's good for the region."
"This is not the project for Troy," said Minesh Baxi, who opposes the transit center.
"We’ve all got to take a careful look at what we plan to do with money we do not have," Troy resident Duane Lamers said. "At this time, I don’t think we need to put our local taxpayers at risk. ... I think we would do well to hold off on such a project for the time being.”
Michelle Elder, a Royal Oak resident who researched the Troy transit center project as a graduate student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said: “You have in your power to determine if Troy will be able to compete. … You, the city of Troy, have an amazing opportunity before you to invest in your future and attract companies and talent.”
“I just think it would be a terrible, terrible idea to give $8 million to another city," said , a student.
"This is not a good decision for Troy to jump into right now," said Troy resident Gordon Shepke. "We ought to be working together as Americans … not going around spending money future generations are going to have to pay for.”
Michele Hodges, director of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, stood flanked by more than two dozen Chamber board members, business owners and labor leaders who support the transit center as she commented.
"If Troy fails, they fail," Hodges said, referring to the business owners surrounding her.
Hodges was dismayed by the council's decision not to award a design contract Monday night, though she said, "We'll continue to march forward, to raise the bar."