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Brownwood Council Awards Bid for Fisk Street Reconstruction Project

Brownwood City Council unanimously voted to award a million dollar plus bid to Prater Equipment Company of Comanche for the reconstruction of the downtown portion of Fisk Street.
Brownwood City Council unanimously voted to award a million dollar plus bid to Prater Equipment Company of Comanche for the reconstruction of the downtown portion of Fisk Street.

Two bids were received on March 20, 2014. The council approved the lowest and best bid to Prater Construction of $1,269,388, just slightly above the engineer’s estimated project cost of $1,230,000.

“We did get a second bid at $1,745,000 from a company out of Abilene, so feel we got an excellent bid from Prater,” said Rountree.

The bid includes excavating the roadbed, considerable curb work, striping of the roadway, constructing 87 ADA upgrade locations (requirements due to changes in federal law), and three traffic light upgrades to meet ADA standards. The traffic lights themselves run $76,000-78,000 each and will have audio tone signals for sight impaired pedestrians, according to City Manager Bobby Rountree.

Mayor Haynes further explained the ADA upgrades and wanted to make sure the public knew that this investment is not something the city required but rather is a federal mandate.

“Changing of the ADA ramps is outside of our control, not something we choose to do. I know it is frustrating to see us constantly changing those ADA ramps,” said Haynes. “Unfortunately it is not city rules and regulation changing those ramps, it is because of changes in federal law.”

The Fisk Street reconstruction project is approximately 4030 linear feet (4/5 of a mile) in length and 40 feet wide, running from Austin Avenue to Main Street through downtown Brownwood. The project will be paid for by funding from the 2012 Certificates of Obligation.

Mayor Stephen Haynes made a comment on the need of sidewalk and lighting updates that were too costly to consider in this project.

“I’d love to see us be able to replace all the curbs and the lighting, unfortunately as the city manager remarked before, I think the cost of that would be equivalent to approximately 50 blocks of road repair, a pretty hefty cost to pay for lighting and sidewalks,” said Haynes. “There is no question that needs to be done, it’s just a matter of time and resources.”

Local business owners in the project area will receive notification from the city regarding the construction.

“We will be sending out letters to the business owners that will be affected to help them work through this particular process,” said Rountree. “We are trying to make this as convenient as possible, we know it will be inconvenient, and will try to keep the road open as much as possible. We’ll attempt to close one block at a time, as we do the work.”

Rountree explained the timeline of the project.

“We expect construction to begin in mid-April. The project timeline is approximately 12 months and may not take that long, it all depends on the weather, and most of the time will be busting out the concrete for the ADA ramps,” explained Rountree.

In other matters on Tuesday’s agenda:

*Council approved the expenditure of funds to be taken from reserves to replace compressors at City Hall. According to Rountree, both compressors on the rooftop have gone out and will be replaced with two 20-ton compressors. Council approved an amount not to exceed $18,000 for the purchase and installation of the compressors. A bid has been received for $16,424; however, the additional amount was approved for unexpected incidentals that may arise during the installation. This repair was not budgeted and this action authorized expenditure out of the city’s reserve funds. A budget amendment will be provided to the City Council at the end of the fiscal year.

*A resolution for a TxDOT Aviation grant for a Business Development and Land Use plan for the Brownwood Regional Airport was approved by council. Brownwood Economic Development Corporation Director Emily Crawford stated that the plan, was requested a few years ago, and now TxDOT is ready to move forward. Crawford stated that there is an Airport Master Plan which was developed in 2005 that contains plans for expansion of buildings, and infrastructure.

This business development and land use plan will complement the master plan in that it has three primary goals:

1. Determine how can the airport grow to support local industrial businesses

2. Determine how can the airport partner with Howard Payne University, Ranger College and Texas State Technical College to expand their curriculum into aviation related fields

3. To develop a land use plan for the highest/best use of the property around the airport.

According to Crawford, the planning cost is $75,000, of which TxDOT will pay with the exception of a 10% match of $7500 which the city will fund through the Airport Services account. At their March 20, 2014 meeting the airport board unanimously approved recommending the city council pursue the grant.

*Council approved ratification of a mayoral appointment of Marisha Stidham to the Civil Service Commission, replacing James Covington who has tendered his resignation to the commission due to a career change and subsequent move from the area. Stidham, the Human Resources Manager at Superior Essex, will fill Covington’s unexpired term which will expire on 12/31/14.

*City Manager Bobby Rountree reported that the construction of the new fire station is on schedule and on track to be completed by the end of July or August of this year. The framing company contracted out of the Houston area has been working 7AM-7PM, 7 days a week to expedite their work. Rountree commended their efforts reporting that they even worked through 40 mph winds seen Sunday, March 17th.

*Rountree reported that the soccer complex is also progressing and the city hopes to see it finished by the 2015 soccer season. Rountree stated that meetings with the local soccer leagues determined that a few changes to the design needed to be made such as adding another concession stand, increasing the number of fields and lighting. The total cost of the project is estimated at $3 million; however, the city has budgeted $2.2 million and will use city crews to do as much of the work as possible to reduce the deficit amount of the project. Currently the project is in stage 2. The city will soon accept bids for site grading, drainage and storm sewer work.

*Rountree reported that the Biggert-Waters Act was amended, allowing for a grandfather clause after an area of Brownwood was remapped into the FEMA flood zone. Through its amendment, these grandfathered properties will not have to pay new premium prices, making flood insurance more affordable for those property owners determined to be in these newly expanded flood zones.

According to Rountree, city engineers Don Hatcher and Jodie Kelly alerted the city to this problem and the city was able to use the strength of Texas Municipal League and the National League of Cities to influence getting the Biggert-Waters Act amended.

“We don’t always see the importance of the organizations we belong to,” said Rountree. “The Texas Municipal League’s and National League of Cities’ influence was important in getting this amendment passed.”

*Council ratified the BEDC’s action to pay the Brownwood Industrial Foundation $25,000 for an option contract with Brownwood Clay Holdings for a ceramic proppant plant on a property owned by the Brownwood Industrial Foundation.
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