Members of the Benld City Council voted unanimously Monday night to award a $619,347 contract for a long-awaited sewer improvement project to Haier Plumbing and Heating, Inc., Okawville.
Jesse Maynard, an engineer with HMG Engineering, said Haier provided the lowest of five bids received from potential contractors. Bids were opened May 5 and ranged from Haier’s low bid to a high of nearly $1.4 million.
“We are recommending that you award Haier Plumbing and Heating at $619,347,” Maynard said. “Haier has done a lot of work for us and we have absolutely no problem with them. The bid was higher than our estimate but everything is coming in higher these days.”
The city received a Community Development and Assistance Program grant in the amount of $505,000 and the city originally anticipated spending $98,000 in local funds to pay for the project. Since the bid exceeded the original estimate, the city will be responsible for the overage. Because it is a grant-funded project, reducing the scope of the project to cut costs is not an option.
The project calls for replacing about 3,400 feet of deteriorating sewer lines on the city’s east side and re-lining about 1,600 feet that can be salvaged with lining. The project has been under discussion since 2015.
“When can we get started?” Ald. Jerry Saracco asked.
“That’s a good question,” Maynard admitted. “It’s going to depend on how quickly we can get the materials.” He said Haier is preparing to start a project in Pinckneyville that has been on hold since the first of the year waiting for materials to be delivered. “It’s really hard to say when that PVC pipe will come in.”
Once the project begins, construction time is estimated at 150 days.
Following a brief executive session, the council voted to sell two properties acquired by the city as a result of court action to local residents. City Attorney Rick Verticchio said the city could legally sell the properties because both had previously been declared surplus and advertised for sale via a bidding process.
Council members voted unanimously to seek property at 400 S. Seventh Street to Jim Spencer for $1,500. Verticchio said the city will be required to pay the county about $300 from proceeds of the sale for delinquent property taxes on the parcel.
The council also approved the sale of 301 West Central Avenue to Bill Gascon, who lives on an adjacent lot. The council deferred action on the sale last month after Ald. Saracco questioned what Gascon planned to do with the property. Mayor Jim Kelly reported Monday night that Gascon told him Gascon might build a garage on the lot or leave it as a grass-covered expansion for his yard. Gascon reportedly agreed that he would build nothing without the specific approval of the council.
On the advice of Verticchio, the council agreed to amend the city’s 2021-22 appropriations ordinance to increase the appropriation for building demolition by $100,000. The city incurred significant costs in demolishing the former bank building on Central Avenue and other structures at various locations in town, depleting the original appropriation.
In a related matter, the council members voted unanimously to accept of low bid of $5,200 from Richard McLain to demolish a burned out house on South Main Street, provided he provides a certificate of insurance and documentation regarding disposal of debris in an authorized dumping area. Two other bids were received, including a bid of $10,400 from Sam Schafer and a bid of $15,000 from Mark Ranger.
Council members informally agreed to give Catherine Young until the council’s July 18 meeting to report to the city in regard to how she intends to deal with deficiencies at the old Gaye Hardware building, 409 East Central Avenue. Appearing before the council, Young said she had gotten a bid from Dynamic Roofing to replace the roof and was awaiting a final bid from Young Roofing. The Dynamic Roofing bid, she said, was $5,000 more than a bid she obtained just four months ago.
“It’s a lot of money,” she said. “If I a put on a new roof, all the other stuff to be done is a concern. I don’t have unlimited funds.” With a new roof, she said, she would have to install a heating system and contract for structural repairs.
“I’d love to put on a new roof but I have to decide what to do,” she advised. “I’ve got to assess what I want to do. It may be more economical to take it down.”
Young said she had discussed the possibility of razing the building with Ken Snider, who owns the neighboring No. 5 Winery. She said Snider indicated the building could be demolished for about $10,000.
With upcoming vacation plans and the need for more research, Young pledged to have a final decision for the council by July 18.
Mayor Kelly reported he had heard from Tim Loveless, owner of Cornerstone Rentals, who was upset about being cited for debris on one of his rental properties. Kelly said Loveless had cleaned up the trash “and he did a really good job,” but Loveless was upset that he wasn’t contacted before a citation was issued.
“I told him we’re going to clean up the town,” Kelly said. “He agreed and said he would cooperate. He said that would help him in renting his properties, and I told him I would tell the council that he wants to work with us.”
On a motion by John Balzraine, the council approved the purchase of security cameras from Auto Sound & Security at a cost of $2,700 to be installed at the city park. Balzraine said the cameras will help curtail the vandalism the city has experienced at the park, which has included damage to picnic tables.
“We’ve had a lot of vandalism,” Balzraine said. “I think it’s time to do something.”
SIDEWALK GRANT STATUS
Mayor Kelly read a letter from State Sen. Doris Turner regarding the status of a $500,000 sidewalk grant awarded two years ago to replace sidewalks on Central Avenue. Turner was responding to a report that funding for the grant had been withdrawn. Turner said the funding remains available but requires legislative reauthorization which could be enacted during a veto session if one is held.
“The $500,000 grant funding is not gone,” Turner wrote. “What they most likely heard is that the grant needs to be reauthorized.”
In other action, the council:
- Approved a business license application from Douglas Miller for a new business called Miller Power Washing.
- Formerly authorized Xavier Stewart to proceed with an Eagle Scout project to improve Veterans Park. Stewart outlined his plans for the park last month.