If price is right, city may extend Main Street renovation completion deadline by 6 weeks

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The possibility of seeing significant savings on the Main Street renovation project has the Hillsboro City Council at least willing to consider a completion date that would fall after the Marion County Fair.

Council members were adamant at their Tuesday meeting that the project be completed in time for the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair, which is set for Sept. 20.

They also agreed the savings would have to be “major” to justify a six-week extension that would further inconvenience downtown businesses in addition to planners of the county fair parade.

The council had previously approved an end date of July 25, but Mayor Delores Dalke said potential bidders were hesitant to commit to such a short deadline for completing a project of this size and complexity.

“I wasn’t sure we were going to get any bids,” Dalke said. “(The July deadline) is just too fast for what has to get done.”

The project, including new street lighting, has been projected to cost around $700,000, according to City Administrator Steven Garrett. He said the project may cost even more if the city insists on the July 25 end date.

Based on the feedback from contractors, Dalke and Garrett said they agreed to allow them to submit two bids: one based on the original July 25 end date and one based on a Sept. 5 end date.

Council member Matt Hiebert expressed his concern about a Sept. 5 date because past projects have sometimes exceeded their contracted end date.

Out of concern for the Arts & Crafts Fair, Hiebert said the contract should stipulate “astronomical” penalties if the contractor did not meet the later deadline.

Dalke said the first step is to see what, if any, cost savings might arise with later end date.

“Of course we’re hoping the price differential will not be very much-or none at all-so that we can choose which contractor we want and finish the project by July 25,” she said after the meeting.

“We’re just allowing them to bid the second way to find out if there is an appreciable amount of savings, because we have a limited amount of resources we can spend on this project.”

Dalke said postponing the project a year wouldn’t change the time crunch.

“You can say, ‘OK, we’ll wait a year,’ but it doesn’t really make any difference because every year those dates (of the county fair and arts fair) are set in stone, and weather doesn’t break until about the first of April so that it’s warm enough to even do this kind of work.”

Dalke said regardless of the end date, a project of this magnitude will require flexibility on everyone’s part.

“It is Main Street, after all, and there will be inconveniences,” she said. “We will be without street lights for a period of time, and there will be days when some businesses, because of hooking on to the new water line, will probably not have water for a day.

“I just hope we can all be flexible enough to cooperate for the good of the community. We can’t be just looking out for ourselves in order to make it happen.”

On a related matter, the council agreed the city should pick up the expense of moving water meters located within buildings to outside of the buildings.

Garrett said five or six buildings along Main Street have water meters located inside. He thought the cost of moving the meters would be “minimal” and ought to be absorbed by the city because the city will benefit from better accessibility.

In an effort to reduce the cost of insurance premiums, the council agreed with a suggestion by Garrett that the city not fully insure the buildings on the former AMPI property.

The buildings have been valued at around $3 million. Richard Nickel, representing the Insurance Center, said the city would save nearly $7,800 in premiums by reducing coverage.

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