The Cherokee City Council last week approved soliciting bids for engineering services for the proposed Birch Street bridge replacement project.
City Administrator Don Eikmeier reported that for engineering design and inspection services for the Birch Street bridge replacement project to be eligible for federal reimbursement, the City must seek proposals from engineering firms.
The local PSS Inc. Sureveying and Engineering is not eligible to bid on federal projects, however, they have indicated that they would keep their costs as low as possible if the City chooses to use the local firm.
Engineering costs generally run about 10% of the construction costs. The estimated cost of this project is $121,983, making engineering costs approximately $12,198. PSS has proposed $7,500 for engineering, which is about 6.15% of the project costs. If the City uses PSS, engineering costs would not be reimbursable by federal funds, which would increase the total cost of the project by about $5,060. Council members agreed they should solicit bids, but they would still have the option of using PSS depending on the outcome.
Eikmeier also told the Council he has received a request from Steve Ebert of Wilson TV in Cherokee, to purchase part of the City lot behind the Chronicle Times and Carey's Restaurant and Christian Bookstore. This is a 17' x 48' lot that has been used for more than 50 years by these businesses for parking and receiving.
Ebert was originally interested in the lot to build a garage, however, there are water service lines running through this lot, so building would be prohibited, according to the City. Ebert is still interested in the lot for vehicle parking for his business and residence above his business on West Main Street.
If the Council was interested in selling this lot, it would have to be declared surplus property, a Public Hearing must be held, and bids solicited.
The Council will take this under consideration and Eikmeier will contact adjoining property owners regarding this proposal.
In other business, Council member Mick Mallory asked whether any further progress has been made regarding clean-up at the former Wilson Junior High property at 100 E. Willow St.. Eikmeier indicated that the scrap pile has diminished, but is not completely gone and the vehicles are still there. He confirmed that the owner, Bert Bieler, plans to move from Cherokee later this year.
Mallory also asked about the former Masonic building on East Willow. The Administrator said there has been no change and reported that there are Brownfield grants available to eliminate contaminated sites, which would include asbestos in buildings such as the old Wilson and Masonic buildings. He said costs to demolish both of these buildings could be a prohibited $100,000-$200,000 each.
Mallory also questioned rehiring seasonal employees for the City Parks Department who had collected unemployment compensation during the off-season. Eikmeier said they advertised the positions and the difficulty in using high school or college students is that they can't start until the end of May and must leave by mid-August. This cuts back drastically on manpower needed to mow before Memorial Day and into October in the parks and cemetery. One suggestion from Council member Greg Stieneke was to bring these employees back during the winter to help with snow removal.
Duane Mummert, Parks Superintendant, was present to give a brief report on what his department has been doing this past month. He reported that as a result of recent flooding they have been hauling river silt from Wescott and Koser Spring Lake parks. There will be more to remove after it has had time to dry. Over-seeding will be done this fall. All restrooms have been opened for use; pool canopy is installed; mowing has started; and tennis court joints have been filled. Mummert noted that the tennis courts are 10-11 years old and need to be resurfaced. This is a cost share with the school. He plans to start working on the new camping spaces after July 1 to be ready for next season. Eikmeier has asked Mummert to get prices for weed spraying at Gillette Park to control the dandelions.
Stieneke requested that an item be placed on the May 25 Council agenda to discuss removal of the animal and bird pens at Spring Lake Park. Stieneke said there are only a few fowl left there and the building is in deplorable condition.
Also on the agenda was for the Council to review a request by a local group to establish a community vegetable garden on City Green Space. The project would mirror a similar community garden in Carroll that has prospered for several years.
That item was tabled until the next Council meeting after no one from the local group attended Tuesday's meeting.