City to begin advertising bids for Broadway construction

Published 6:27 am Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday authorized city staff to begin advertising for bids for downtown Broadway’s reconstruction.

The project will be bid in two ways, and bids have to be turned in by April 2, according to City Engineer Steven Jahnke.

One option will be to bid for the reconstruction of Broadway and its underground utilities, along with new sidewalks, lighting, tree planters, bumpouts and two plazas — at William and Water streets — among other amenities. It would also include a reconstruction of Fountain Lake Park to feature a grand staircase leading into the park that could double as seating.

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The second option would be to bid for all of the major infrastructure improvements for the street and utilities but not some of the amenities in the plazas, such as trees, benches, pavers and other decorative items. It would also not include the grand staircase for Fountain Lake Park.

Jahnke said he is expecting a difference of an about $310,000 between the two options — $25,000 for each plaza and $260,000 for the park.

Once the bids are returned, the council will decide which option to move forward with.

Third Ward Councilor George Marin voted against approving the plans and authorizing bids to be advertised because he said he disagreed with the extent of the project.

He said he supports reconstructing the infrastructure, but he does not support the extra amenities. He said he would support the project without both plazas and without the Fountain Lake Park improvements.

“I think we are taking the cart before the horse with the whole project,” Marin said.

Sixth Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks said if the project comes back in a way he does not feel is feasibly acceptable, he will vote against it.

“I can accept moving forward as long as I know I have an alternative,” Minnow said.

The project has been in the works for at least two years and started with the need to replace deteriorating infrastructure underneath the road that has been in place for more than 80 years.

Jahnke said other goals have been to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly, to make an economically feasible project and to provide opportunities for businesses and events, among others.

The city has hosted a series of public meetings during the last year to seek feedback on the project, and also formed a steering committee to give additional input.

The community has been split on the need for some of the amenities planned for the project.


Estimated costs

Jahnke said he estimates the entire project — including all of the amenities — will cost about $4.1 million.

Of that cost, city staff have proposed $1 million would be paid for through state dollars, $800,000 would be assessed to downtown property owners, about $1.5 million would come from the city’s sewer and water fund and $800,000 would come from bonding.

City Manager Chad Adams said the bonding cost equates to about $9 per year for 10 years for a $100,000 home or $14 per year for a $100,000 business.

If the city only bonded for $650,000, the cost would be about $7 a year for a $100,000 home and about $11 for a $100,000 business.

Jahnke said he hopes the council can award the contract for the project in April with construction to begin in late May. He hopes to have the whole project completed by October.

Albert Lea resident Glen Parsons, who was a member of the steering committee, said he supported the full project and stated the longer the city waits to complete it, the more expensive it will cost.

“I hope you can see the vision of what this means for our community for the future,” he said to the council.

Parsons said the project has been modified dramatically from the beginning based on suggestions by the committee and the community.

“If we can make this downtown as beautiful as what it will be when we finish this project, this will be a real destination,” he said.

Tom Staker, part owner of Celebrations Party & Gifts, said he was willing to put up with a little inconvenience now for the project to be completed.

He said he has customers from out of town who are excited to see what is planned to take place.