2013-07-25 / Front Page

Final USDA work done

City makes payments for infrastructure

MANISTIQUE – The approximately $8 million infrastructure project is now officially complete as city council voted Monday to “close out” the job and make final payments to vendors. Only minor restoration work remains in the project which began last summer.

According to Kevin Trevillian, project engineer for Coleman Engineering, said the city ended up spending approximately $4.1 million on each side of town.

“You’ve realized $8.2 million in construction when it’s all said and done,” he said.

Elmer’s Crane and Dozer, Inc., of Traverse City, which handled construction on the east side of town, came in under budget by approximately $5,645. The savings was realized even with the addition of infrastructure work to a block of Park Avenue this spring. That portion of the project, which was cut last year due to anticipated cost overruns, but added back in after the majority of the project had been complete, was recently finished.

On the west side of town, Hebert Construction Company came in $3,404.56 under budget. However, the company, which saw numerous issues during the project, including contaminated soil, is once again facing problems. An issue with some of the restoration work on the west side led City Manager Sheila Aldrich to question whether the city should pay the contractor before they are satisfied the issue has been corrected.

Trevillian explained the construction company has secured a new subcontractor for the work. This company, the same used by Elmer’s, has recently applied a weed treatment and plans to visit the area again soon to determine if further seeding or treatment is necessary, he said. Trevillian noted the city does not have much choice about withholding payment from the contractor.

“The reason that this is so timecritical right now is that there is recovery act money involved, so Rural Development in Gladstone has laid out pretty strict guidelines on when we need to process these final payments,” he said.

Aldrich expressed her concerns about voting to pay the company before they are finished working.

“Once they have the dollars, it’s a whole lot harder to get them to come back,” she said. “We’ll have the check cut, and when we’re pleased, come get your money.”

A “substantial completion” warranty will be in place until Nov. 1, Trevillian explained, meaning the city would have some means to force the contractor to act once financial leverage is lost.

City council voted unanimously to make payments to Elmer’s and Hebert’s, as well as make all final payments to all vendors for construction on the project.

In other business, city council members also voted to approve the purchase of property owned by George Slining, the owner of Manistique Rentals, Inc. The property, located on Lakeside Road behind Emerald Elementary, will be purchased by the city for $64,000, with the city paying closing costs.

According to Aldrich, the Department of Public Works requested the purchase of the property to: use as a location to crush rock into gravel; avoid the land’s potential sale to another buyer who may force the city to relocate its sand, which is currently on the property; and offer more storage for sand within the city limits.

The sale is contingent upon a phase one environmental report and the funds must be expended in fiscal year 2013-14.

Mayor David Peterson revealed Aldrich recently came into contact with the anonymous bidder who placed a bid to purchase the East Breakwater Lighthouse. The $15,000 bid has yet to be approved by General Services Administration.

“It’s been purchased by an individual. That name has come to us, and we are aware of who that is,” he said. “My understanding is he has no desire to move this lighthouse … he likes lighthouses and he’s got money to fix it up.”

Aldrich noted the potential purchaser is working with the GSA, and that the city provided him with the information – such as the engineering report developed when they were considering taking over the light.

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