Council awards contract for Broadway reconstructionPublished 8:07pm Monday, April 22, 2013
All but plaza enhancements approved
Construction for the Broadway streetscape project is moving forward — including the reconstruction of the street, utilities, sidewalk and street lighting, and the redevelopment of Fountain Lake Park.
The Albert Lea City Council on Monday voted 5-2 to award a $4.3 million contract to BCM Construction Inc. of Faribault for the project.
“This is an opportunity for our community to set ourselves apart from all other communities,” said Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen.
The only portion of the project not moving ahead is the enhancement to plazas at William and Water streets — totaling about $86,000.
Work is slated to begin next month.
A breakdown of the contract
The approved contract includes a base of $3.77 million for the street work, sewer and water replacement, sidewalk replacement, bumpouts, street lighting, decorative pavers and basic plazas on William and Water streets. In addition, it includes $438,000 for the reconstruction of Fountain Lake Park. Plans are to transform part of the park into a grand staircase that can double as seating for events.
A $121,000 contract for the reconstruction of the North Broadway parking lot was also included, though it is not part of the same project financing.
The vote came after bids for the project came in earlier this month about $495,000 over the estimate. The entire plans had been estimated to cost $4.1 million, including a $305,000 engineering fee.
City Manager Chad Adams said about $1 million of the cost will be paid for through state bonding dollars, $820,000 will be paid for through assessments, sewer and water funds will cover $1.5 million, and the remainder will be paid for through city bonding. The city is also applying to the Shell Rock River Watershed District for cost sharing funds for the rain garden in the park.
A breakdown of the votes
Sixth Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks and 3rd Ward Councilor George Marin voted against awarding the contract, stating it was more than what was needed at this time.
Marin said the project was one of the biggest decisions the city has ever had to make as a community and noted he received 98 phone calls and emails about it. Of that number, five people were for the project in its entirety, he said.
He said he would support the project if it were better economic times and called it a “wrongful taxation and assessment on the people at a time where they cannot afford it.”
“Let the government behave the way the normal American citizen has to behave when you don’t have the money,” Marin said.
Brooks said though he supported the infrastructure needs of the project, he could not support the project in full.
He said from the beginning he has said that he would weigh the whole project, and if he felt it was more than what was needed, he would vote against it.
Fifth Ward Councilor Larry Anderson pointed out the importance of spending the $1 million in grant funding the city has received from the state.
He said the constituents he talked to were supportive of the base bid and the Fountain Lake Park improvements.
Fourth Ward Councilor Reid Olson said he has had a complete change of view about the project since it began. He talked about the importance of park part of the project for connecting Fountain Lake to the downtown.
“It’s time I feel to move forward and give something that this community can be very proud of,” Olson said.
Rasmussen said he thought the community needed to look at the project as an opportunity not a hardship. He said it would join what he thinks are the two jewels of the community — Fountain Lake and the historic downtown.
The vote came after an original motion failed 3-4. That motion called for approving the entire project — including the plaza enhancements.
A handful of people spoke about the project prior to the vote, including former 3rd Ward Councilor Ellen Kehr, who was also at the meeting to be recognized for her time as a councilor.
She talked about former instances that the council has protected taxpayer dollars and the thought that the council has put into its decisions.
“I know that it is not easy to represent the people in difficult economic times and still lead to a vision, but you have done that in the past, and I am confident you will do that in the future,” she said.
Artist Ryan Heath said he understood the trickled-down effect the project’s costs would have on him, but said he was in full support.
“Now is the time,” Heath said.
Three others spoke against.