The Signal Mountain Town Council on Monday night voted to put off routine paving and proceed with repaving of James Boulevard. Repairs will also proceed at the Mountain Arts Community Center (MACC).
The council had called a special meeting to make decisions about several building projects that came in at significantly higher costs than the amounts budgeted for them.
The town wants to complete repaving James Boulevard between River Point Road and Signal Point in time for the Centennial celebration that will take place in April 2019. A grant was received to help pay for the work, but in the four years since the application for the grant was made, costs have increased. The lowest bid received for the work was $1,099,369 - a large increase over the $530,800 that had been budgeted, leaving a large difference for the town to make up.
Another project in the budget was routine paving that is done yearly. The low bid for this work came from Wright Brothers Construction at $461,418 - significantly more than the $375,800 that had been anticipated.
At the regular council meeting on Sept. 10, Town Manager Boyd Veal was asked to get the cost for repaving only the roads that connect to James Boulevard at the same time it is being rebuilt, in an effort to prevent tire marks marring a new road if that paving was done later. The contractor told Mr. Veal that cutting the contract they had bid on in half was not feasible for the company and said it would be smart to push the routine paving back for a year. The council voted to put this off until next year and to apply the savings toward the replacement of James Boulevard. Adding a pledge of $50,000 from Alexian Village for the work will get the total amount available closer to the low bid, leaving a smaller gap for the city to make up.
Mr. Veal gave the council an update on the work that is taking place at the Mountain Arts Community Center. The cost of work for repairs has been higher than anticipated. The council has committed $500,000 toward making the building safe and to meeting current building codes. That amount includes adding fire sprinklers in the front part of the building and constructing a fire wall between the front and back, which would not have sprinklers.
Funds in the budget for sprinklers will come from the Signal Mountain Preservation Fund and the Signal Mountain Elementary Fund that is managed by the Community Foundation. Mr. Veal said if sprinklers are added to the back of the building, a fire wall would not be needed and, with a few other cost reductions that have been identified, that $9,500 in savings has been found. This will allow the back of the building to be sprinkled.
Another cost overrun has been caused by hitting rock when joining the water line to the building for sprinklers. This rock work added $7,200 of unexpected cost.
Repairs underneath the office area ran into unanticipated problems too. Mr. Veal said all these repairs can be made for $12,000 including replacement of 14 broken floor joists.
Recommendations from engineers overseeing the project included laying pipe to direct stormwater runoff. This would cost the town $15,000. The location of this runoff is after the water moves away from the building, and would be needed only occasionally during periods of heavy rain, so the contractor has suggested doing all work recommended by the engineers except putting the piping across the parking lot. Water will flow across the lots during times of unusually heavy rain. This will save $15,000, and if it is determined at a later time that it is needed, the piping can be added. Two sump pumps will be placed under the building to handle normal amounts of water that run under the building.
The council unanimously voted to allow Mr. Veal to make the decisions needed to proceed.
Overall the project changes including the rock issue are about $9,700 above the amount budgeted, and he will look for ways to off-set that, said the city manager.
At the council’s agenda work shop meeting on Sept. 28, an update will be given on the MACC project. Discussion will be held regarding the replacement of Town Attorney Phil Noblett and about joining the small cities coalition. Ann Haygood will give an update on the ad hoc committee’s research into keeping or selling the town’s water system, and there will be a discussion about water rates which were last increased in 2011.