W. MI communities getting grants from supplemental budget

LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — While a major focus of the $1.3 billion budget bill approved early Friday morning is on fixing Michigan's roads and cleaning up the environment, lawmakers also set aside $115.5 million in “Michigan Enhancement Grants.”

If Gov. Rick Snyder signs off on the legislation, many of the grant dollars will be spent in West Michigan, and Lowell is getting a piece of the pie.

The city is receiving $1.3 million to replace the Lowell Showboat, which has been deteriorating over time.

City manager Mike Burns said they haven't let people on it for a couple years over safety concerns.

"We need to do something about this," Burns said. "Everything we do revolves around the showboat and it has for years. This is something that is extremely important."

That's why the city has planned to replace the showboat for a while now. Lowell secured $1 million in grant money last year and raised $300,000 on their own, but needed another $1.3 million to fully fund a new showboat.

Lawmakers secured that amount in the Friday morning vote.

"I'm still in shock quite honestly," Burns said.

Part of the nearly $3 million-dollar project will include new restrooms on the Lowell riverwalk, and the new showboat will be enclosed. The city plans to install heating and cooling and for the first time ever, operate it in the winter.

"It's gonna operate kind of as an event center," Burns said. "In a matter of a very short period of time, we're gonna be able to revive this and make the community proud of the showboat again."

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