Downtown streetscape bid accepted, construction could start in July
Center city officials and planners working to bring a downtown revitalization project to reality headed back to the drawing board since a June 10 meeting when it appeared the project might have gotten sidetracked.
On Monday evening those efforts paid off in a unanimous vote by the Center City Council to approve a revised bid on the project that came in at $3.869 million. The acceptance came with the stipulation Texas Department of Transportation gives its stamp of approval to the project once a traffic study involving traffic signals around the square being conducted is complete.
City Manager Chad Nehring said the project remains above the original project budget by about $250,000. But with low interest bond rates approved with the sale of certificates of obligation at the June 10 meeting, “the annual payments will remain lower than originally projected even with the additional funds allocated to the project,” he said.
Nehring said Bob Steahs, lead project engineer on the streetscape project, has been busy meeting with White Oak Studio designers and the bidder on the project to help reduce the budget.
“He and the team from White Oak Studio have worked diligently with the Fain Group, the lone bidder, to refine some of the specifications of materials to present you with a revised cost estimate,” Nehring said. A change in specifications in a light pole vendor resulted in about a $300,000 reduction in cost.
Nehring said The Fain Group is a Fort Worth-based firm with a wide variety of references provided for doing similar downtown revitalization projects across the state.
'Secondly, some of pavers themselves, particularly those out in the street and intersection, were changed to a concrete brick as opposed to the clay brick, which is just a little more dense,” he said. Appearance, color and everything else should be the same, Nehring said.
“Other than that there are some minor changes, a little bit of reduction in the initial landscaping,” he said.
Steahs said he expects construction could still start in mid-July, depending on the findings of the TxDOT traffic signal study and requirements the state might make since the project includes highways.
When construction does start it will include a 365-day contract to get the project completed, Steahs said.
Soccer Fields and Parks
In other business at Monday's meeting the council awarded a bid of $81,770 to White Electric for installing security lighting at the new Ballard Street Soccer Fields. Nehring said while the lighting will be sufficient for securing needs and practicing up through dusk, it will not be enough lighting for competition field lighting.
“The site grading work has been predominately done, the demolition has been almost completely finished,” Nehring said of progress at the made at the park renovation.
Looking to the future of parks in the city, on a motion by Porterfield, the council unanimously approved a contract for updating the city's master plan for its parks. Nehing said since the last long range park planning effort was completed in 2011, several projects have been advanced or completed.
Mayor David Chadwick said advancing the parks master plan comes at a good time as some major enhancements have been made since the 2011 plan was developed.
“It also comes with rejuvenated interest we have in some of our parks” as expressed by resident comment in recent meetings.
There has been renewed interest expressed at a couple of recent council meeting from residents wanting to see improvements at Perry Sampson Park. Nehring said having an updated parks master plan in place should provide Center needed documentation when it applies for the next round of Texas Parks and Wildlife grants, which has an application deadline in December.
• Approved a recommendation for a budget change to the city's technology fund for $15,681 to Tyler Technologies which should aid human resources.
• Approved a resolution allowing the Center Housing Authority to pay a fee to the city in lieu of property taxes since the entity is non-profit. The payment is stipulated for improvements to the complex and the motion included a requirement for oversight of how the funds are utilized.
• Approved renewing the city's health insurance coverage which, for the first time in several years, reflects a reduction in premium instead of an increase. Nehring said the proposal for the upcoming year has a 3 percent reduction in costs to the city employee's portion of coverage.
However, for the optional employee benefit for an employee's family which the employee pays, the cost may go up, he said.
• Approved a change to an agreement with artist David Masterson for the painting of concrete retaining walls in Center for an additional $1,500. Masterson said the cost of materials for the project was much higher than anticipated.
• Approved the temporary closing of several city streets in the downtown area to accommodate the What-A-Melon 5k run hosted by the Center Rotary Club on July 13.
• Approved a request by the Center Police Department to add Timothy Magness as a reserve officer. He is a graduate of the East Texas Police Academy. The addition of Magness gives the police department four reserve officers.
• Heard a report from Nehring relaying concerns in a letter from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about a dam located on private property off of Pine Street. TCEQ raised the possible threat of a possible dam break to “high.” Nehring said efforts by the state to get the land owner to do anything to remedy the threat have not been responded to and the issue has been turned over to the Texas Attorney General's Office for possible action out of concern for residents downstream.
• Approved a rezoning request for property at 401 Martin Luther King Street from residential to commercial.
• Approved a rezoning request for 521 Shelbyville Street from commercial to residential.
• Discussed a adopting calendar for working on the city's budget for the 2019-2020 budget year.