BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A $1.5 million project to put in new sidewalks and curbing, and improve stormwater drainage on Avenue G downtown, is getting closer to becoming a reality.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, a spokeswoman from HR Green, Inc. out of Cedar Rapids, said the company, under contract with the city, is putting the project out for bids.
According to Teresa Staleman, the project manager for HR Green, the city has $1.55 million to spend on the project, but current engineering estimates have a three-block section from 7th to 10th streets at $1.45 million and another one-block section at roughly $425,000.
The project will put in new sidewalks, curbing, permeable pavers, and storm water enhancements along the north and south sides of Avenue G.
The funding source comes from the interest that would have been paid to the state on loans taken out to rehab the city’s waste water treatment plant. So instead of paying interest on those loans, the city can use $1.55 million of that interest to fund the project.
Staleman said the bids for the project will go out in February and then come back to the council for review. The council would then select and approve a bid, hold a public hearing, and then go to construction by mid-April and be done before Thanksgiving.
City Councilman Bob Morawitz told a group of business and property owners at a Riverfront Business District meeting on Thursday construction will involve tearing up one block and then moving to the next block and start tearing it up for the improvements. While the second block is being torn up, crews will rehab the block that had been torn up previously, and that the project will cycle like that throughout the construction.
Larry Driscoll said the work will not include street lighting and Alliant will provide lighting at street corners only.
He said two lights will be on the opposite sides of each corner with trees on the adjacent corners.
Councilman Rusty Andrews said by eliminating street lights in the middle of the blocks, they may save money, but the city is paying for that now, so why not continue that level of lighting.
Driscoll said the city would have to put the nodes back in the middle of the blocks and said that could interfere with the drainage system that was the reason the money became available.
“Shut the street lights off and see how dark it is down there, I can’t imagine the downtown will like that. I know your argument is in residential areas you don’t have street lights, but in all your business districts you have street lights. Right now you have two or three in the middle of every block,” Andrews said.
Staleman said at this point, engineers have eliminated all the things they can and still retain the funding.
“We’re fairly confident we can do three of the four blocks for under the $1.55 million,” she said.
In other action, the council
• approved by a 6-0 vote the sale of property at 1136 Avenue H, to MM Real Estate, LLC for $13,500. Rusty Andrews abstained. Councilman Matt Mohrfeld voted in favor of the sale, but acknowledged that the property was being sold to his nephew, Michael Mohrfeld.
• approved 7-0 to go out for bids and schedule a public hearing to do a bridge deck overlay on the 14th Street bridge over French Creek.
• approved 7-0, to have HR Green take over the Geographic Information Systems for the city at a cost not to exceed $43,500
• appointed Carol Foss to the city’s Tourism Commission, Jerry Hamelton to the city’s Board of Adjustment and Appeals, and Robert Cochran to the Old Fort Commission, all with unanimous votes.