City rejects sole bid for downtown streetscape work Contractorâ�?�?s proposal deemed too expensive By David Lias
Editor The Vermillion City Council decided to go back to the drawing board â�?�? at least in terms of seeking bids â�?�? for the long-anticipated downtown streetscape construction project. Welfl Construction of Yankton was the only contractor to submit bids for the work, which were opened by city administrators earlier this month. An examination of their proposal revealed that their base bid for the project, which totaled $407, 223, would eat up most of the funds available for the construction. â�?�?We received only one bid, and it was for more than we have available for funding, and it was for more than what our consultant felt was an appropriate amount,â�? he said. A deduct alternate bid of $396,355 was also submitted for a reduced bump out in front of a pocket park that is part of the streetscapeâ�?�?s design. The bid does not include general conditions, contingency and construction administration costs. Total available funding for the project is $525, 503, which includes federal grant funds and a 18 percent local match by the city. Design services, property purchase for the public plaza, survey work, soil testing and appraisal costs total approximately $110, 360, leaving $415,140 for the project. The Vermillion City Council decided to reject Welflâ�?�?s bid, and try again, hopefully collecting more competitive bids from contractors. It plans to receive those bids in January, with the city council taking action on them in early February. The later-than-expected bid opening wonâ�?�?t effect the completion date of the project. Prescott said the low bidder wonâ�?�?t be able to begin work in the dead of winter. â�?�?The project has a completion date of July 15, 2009,â�? Prescott said, meaning this phase of the streetscape work, if all goes well, will be complete in time for the planned sesquicentennial festivities in August 2009. Vermillion citizens decided approximately more than four years ago that a streetscape project was needed for downtown. Consultants Brian Clark of Brian Clark and Associates, a landscape architecture firm from Des Moines, IA, and Jon Jacobson, a landscape architect with TSP of Sioux Falls, formulated the initial design plans for the project after receiving public input. The two men estimated the total cost of the project, which would be completed over a seven-year time span, would be nearly $2.2 million, with expenditures during some years being much higher than others. City Manager John Prescott said staff had prepared numerous copies of the streetscape plans, which were picked up by several contractors, leading officials to believe more than one bid would be received. The work bid on by Welf Construction included two main components of the project: the development of a public plaza at the corner of Market and Main streets, and the development of a â�?�?pocket parkâ�? between Dick Sundeâ�?�?s building and J&J Theatre. The process for developing the streetscape master plan began in October 2003. A highlight of the process occurred Nov. 20-21, 2003, when consultants held day-long marathon meetings with groups of stakeholders in the cityâ�?�?s downtown, gathering feedback and ideas. The vision of the plan includes expanding bump-outs/nodes, unique pavement, seatwalls, fixed benches, sculpture and landscape improvements at certain intersections downtown. Other suggested improvements include updating storefronts, pedestrian scale lighting, new concrete walks with paved borders, new signage/banners, and landscape improvements. The master plan seeks to: â�?¢ create an urban environment that supports and encourages an active street presence and makes downtown a unique district in Vermillion. â�?¢ establish an appropriate image and improve aesthetics for the study area. â�?¢ create a "sense of arrival" to downtown Vermillion. â�?¢ enhance safe and friendly pedestrian linkages within downtown and to campus/Cherry Street. â�?¢ focus on the unique and historic character of downtown in all details of the design.