Holland, MI – Cool snowmelt system could expand to more of downtown

Holland’s cool snowmelt system could expand to more of downtown

Published: Friday, January 21, 2011, 7:00 AM

By Greg Chandler | The Grand Rapids Press

HOLLAND — For more than two decades, residents and visitors to downtown have been able to shop without worrying about slipping on ice because of the city’s snowmelt system.

Now, with the system nearing capacity, City Council members are looking into an expansion. They approved spending up to $10,000 to have GMB Architecture and Engineering put together plans, options and cost estimates for expanding the snowmelt system, possibly onto Ninth Street.

“Snowmelt has been a tremendous asset to our downtown and the identity we have as a city,” Mayor Pro Tem Bob Vande Vusse said.

The discussion on the system’s future comes as the city plans work on it as part of the construction set for Central Avenue, from Eighth to State streets this spring. That project includes extending the main supply and return distribution piping for the system, as well as tying into privately-owned snowmelt systems in place on the sidewalks on Central, between Eighth and Ninth streets.

“This is an opportune time to review future snowmelt system-wide possibilities, as this may affect sizing of the pipes in Central Avenue,” City Manager Soren Wolff wrote in a memo to council members.

The snowmelt system was installed in 1988 as part of a streetscape project on Eighth Street, the main downtown thoroughfare. It works through heated water going through pipes and tubes underneath streets and sidewalks, with the heat coming from an electric generator at the Board of Public Works’ James DeYoung Plant.

The system has been expanded several times, most recently to the ramps of the parking deck on Seventh Street. The coverage area also includes the Eighth Street Marketplace area near the Civic Center and sidewalks leading to City Hall and Herrick District Library, both on River Avenue.

Grand Rapids Press File Photo

In this 2004 photo, workers are shown laying snowmelt piping at the intersection of Eighth Street and Pine Avenue