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Tuscola’s Ervin Park improvements hit speed bump

By Kayleigh Rahn
The city’s proposed Ervin Park improvements have hit a speed bump.

The project is slated to be completed as one of the state’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant programs. The matching grant of $328,000 will cover resurfacing of the park’s basketball and tennis courts and new lighting structures on three of the park’s four baseball fields. 

However, after initial engineering plans were complete and the bidding process sunset, the city received one bid for the project at $1,111,569.62 – well above the estimated budget of $656,000. Ten contractors had plans in hand, four of whom are considered prime bidders, according to City Administrator Drew Hoel. 

“Obviously, we cannot recommend a bid award at this time,” Hoel told the council during its meeting Monday, Sept. 9. “Instead, our consulting engineers will be reviewing the project scope, grant requirements, and bidder feedback to determine what options we may have.”

The city is working with the grant consultant and the consulting engineer to determine the best course of action prior to the next council meeting.

“I don’t have any specific information on this yet, but I will tell you that generally there are two directions that can cause a bid to be that far out of whack.”

He said one explanation may be the current bidding environment – a busy construction season with competitive projects available. The other cause could be poor project specifications including a project’s lay out, design, or required timeline.

“That’s generally speaking, not linked to this specific project,” he added.

The project must be complete by May 1, 2020 to meet grant guidelines, and at an initial look there is no option for deadline extension. 

“We need to take a look at this to amend the scope or find things we can do to salvage some or all of this,” Hoel said. City officials will also look into the possibility of re-bidding the project. 

The council, on Monday,  tabled the bid consideration until more information can be presented. The bid can stand for up to 45 days without action.

In keeping with the construction bid topic, the city received word that the developers of the incoming Love’s Travel Store site on the southeast corner of the city has postponed the bid opening date to accommodate bidder interest and various coordination issues regarding permitting. The city is not the bidding agency, though it is reimbursing Love’s for the public portion of the improvements, pursuant to the redevelopment agreement, Hoel reported.

Hoel said he expects to have bid results by the next council meeting. 

“The feedback they received throughout the bidding process is that contractors are pretty busy right now,” Hoel said.

In other work, Mayor Dan Kleiss shared two proclamations he plans to sign including one on behalf of Tuscola Rotary Club, with encouragement from Rotarian Fred Heilich that recognizes World Polio Day on Oct. 24. Rotary International has taken the charge to eradicate Polio, and World Polio Day serves as the annual campaign culmination for fundraising and awareness.

The second proclamation recognizes the Tuscola Woman’s Club for its 125th year of service within the community. The milestone will be celebrated on Oct. 27.

The council also approved the city’s credit card account, a new service within the market. 

“A credit card is often the most convenient way to complete purchases, but, until recently, we have been unable to have an account in the city’s name,” notes from Hoel say. The card will be a Visa through First State Bank. Normal procurement polices and approvals will remain in place, regardless of the manner in which purchases are made.

Finally, Kleiss congratulated the Tuscola football team for its historic Cola War win, but, more importantly, he congratulated both Arcola and Tuscola communities for participating in the Tackle Hunger food drive held in conjunction with the game.

Aldermen Troy Rund and Dave Slaughter were absent.

In other business, the council:

• Approved Community Building leases with alcohol for Cast Iron Pub’s grand opening event (to be used in case of rain) Saturday, Sept. 28 and TCHS Alumni Association’s All-School Reunion Friday, Sept. 27.

• Approved an outdoor shopping event with Sweet Soul Boutique Saturday, Oct. 5 from 10-4 p.m. The shop owners have invited mobile boutiques to set up in parking spaces west and south of their shop. The Vault and Petals and Plants plan to have sidewalk sales that day, as well.

• Approved the Lions Club annual Candy Days for Oct. 25-26 at the Main and Sale streets intersection. Lion Paul Wisovaty explained to the council their annual Candy Days raises money for hearing aids and glasses for area residents. Wisovaty also invited the council and city personnel to help place 256 American flags Wednesday, Sept. 11 along Prairie in recognition of 9/11 and the 256 Illinois veterans who have been killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001. The VFW is leading the event; however, Wisovaty said it is an American effort rather than specific to veteran involvement. 

• Approved wage step increases for two employees within Public Works. Jordan Smith and Jamey Mauzy’s wages will receive a $1.80 increase each, from $20.60 to $22.40 per hour and from $19.20 to $21, respectively. The wage increase will start with the current pay period beginning Monday, Sept. 9.

• Approved the minutes from the Monday, Aug. 26 meeting.

• Approved the payment of bills in the amount of $77,691.80.

• Learned the Tax Increment delinquency report includes Eddie Boutilier and Red Barn Veterinary Services.

• Adjourned until Monday, Sept. 23.

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