The Camanche City Council on Tuesday moved forward with changes to the Washington Boulevard project.
At the last meeting, the project was delayed when the City Council rejected all of the construction bids for the project. The council deemed the approximately $4.2 million project cost to be too high and decided on several money-saving changes. These proposed changes will save more than $800,000, with more than $600,000 from the elimination of lighting and wiring costs. This reduction in project costs will save approximately $47 annually on a resident’s taxes.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the council discussed an amendment to the engineering agreement with Shive-Hattery, Inc. for the changes to the current project design. The cost of this amendment would be $31,250 for a fixed fee, plus $2,000 in reimbursable expenses.
The new design will eliminate street lighting, the electrical elements for the street lighting, the recreational trail from Fourth Avenue north to the Mississippi River Trail and the recreation trail from 17th Avenue south to the MRT. The street width would be 31 feet wide from Fourth Avenue to Park Drive.
A storm sewer will start and continue approximately 400 feet south of Fifth Street and continuing 5,700 feet to a discharge point along Park Drive. There will also be a storm sewer from Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street to Fifth Avenue and Washington Boulevard, and then along Washington Boulevard to 17th Avenue. Driveway connections will be in the right-of-way along Washington Boulevard.
The locations of sidewalks are also addressed in this new plan. Sidewalks will be on both sides of the road from Fourth Avenue to 17th Avenue. A sidewalk will be built along the river side of Washington Boulevard from 17th Avenue to the bowling alley. Another sidewalk located on the river side of the road will be placed from Fourth Avenue to the city-owned triangle at 11th Place.
Members of the public voiced opinions on the council’s plans for Washington Boulevard. Dan Srp was on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting to discuss his opinions on the issue. Before Srp spoke, Mayor Jim Robertson read a letter from councilman Gary Kampe, who was absent for medical reasons. In the letter, Kampe said he felt Srp’s comments should wait until all of the council members were present.
“I think at this time we should allow our city engineer to finish up with his task that he was told to do so by the council members. The re-bidding process should continue without any further delays,” stated Kampe in the letter.
Kampe’s letter also said Srp does not pay property tax in the community. Robertson defended Srp’s right to speak, saying he and his family have been in the area for years. He also pointed out that Srp is active in the community and a member of the Camanche Board of Education. Srp told the council that Kampe was mistaken about him not paying property tax. He and his wife do own a property in the community which they rent out.
“Because I do live outside the community perimeter, I’m not allowed to run for council or vote for council for that matter. So my only avenue to voice my opinion is to come here and speak in front of the council,” Srp said.
Srp wanted to speak Tuesday before the council members decided to go forward with the proposed changes. He told the council he has not been at any meetings since the February town hall meeting at the fire station, when he spoke in favor of the project.
He said he had understood that the course the council was on with the project was one he agreed with. He felt the council spent a lot of time, going item by item and cost by cost to narrow the scope of the project to save funds, and still meet the current and future needs of Camanche.
Srp said he was concerned when he learned that after letting out for bids and receiving a bid that he understood was 13 percent less than what was projected, the council rejected the bid.
“I don’t understand why a lower price would cause you to reject the bid,” said Srp.
Srp especially expressed concern with the decision to reduce the width of the streets. He said having wider streets would be beneficial for snow removal, turning lanes and access for businesses. He felt the substantial additional costs for re-engineering the project would absorb any savings from reducing the planned street widths. Srp also was worried about delaying the project more than it has been.
He expressed concerns that if the current council does not secure this project, it could be derailed again if a new council takes over.
“I feel like the vote of the council reflects that they’re not wanting to make the decision,” said Srp.
Council members did not respond to Srp’s statements. Camanche resident Charlie Blount did. He said he both agreed and disagreed with Srp.
He agreed that Washington Boulevard is an important asset to the community. However, he has asked the council in the past to try to find areas where they can save money. He feels there are places money can be saved, but said he does not think the council will find them. Blount said if the council could find these savings, the community could have the road and the arguments would stop concerning the cost of the road.
The council discussed the proposed changes to the design and any possible changes to it. The ammendment was approved as it stood.
Council members Linda Kramer, Paul Varner and Greg Nelson voted in favor of the amendment. Councilman Ken Fahlbeck voted against.
After the meeting, Fahlbeck said he continues to vote against the project because he feels with the current economy, it is not the right time for it. He thinks there are other avenues to explore.