Friday, July 11, 2014
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City postpones one project, moves forward with another

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[July 11, 2014]  LINCOLN - Streetscape on Pulaski put on hold - On Monday evening at the end of the Lincoln City Council voting session, aldermen heard from Mayor Keith Snyder that the Pulaski Street downtown revitalization project will be put on hold until after the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival.

Snyder advised the council there had been a meeting earlier in the day regarding the streetscape work scheduled to be done on Pulaski Street between Kickapoo and McLean Street. He said the oversight engineering firm, Farnsworth Group; the contractor, Illinois Civil Contractors, Inc.; several downtown business merchants and property owners, along with members of the Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee had been in attendance at this meeting.

Snyder said the group had made the decision to postpone the start date of the project until after the Art and Balloon Festival. He said the group had decided to set a new start date of August 25 and that there would be a change order issued, which the council would need to approve at the next voting session.

Snyder explained there were several delays in getting the project started this summer. First, he said there were delays in getting approval for the curb extensions from the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency. Then, he said the bids came in higher than anticipated by the steering committee.

According to stipulations put on the committee by the council, the committee could not exceed the budgeted dollars for the project. Because of this, the group had to revisit the original plan and make cuts to the work to be done this year.

And, finally Snyder said, the weather had not been cooperative. He noted that even looking ahead for the week or more, there were multiple days of rain expected in the area.

Snyder said the original plan was to have the bulk of the work completed by August 15, so it would be done the week before the festival. The delays experienced now make the August 15th completion date improbable.

Snyder said the group of engineers, contractors, business owners, and the steering committee all agreed the project should be put on hold so as not to disrupt the downtown activities of the festival.

When he finished, there were very few comments made by the council. Marty Neitzel did express that the city would be better off to wait, but she also expressed her frustration saying, ďI donít know of any other town that has more problems than Lincoln Illinois."

City accepts bids for Sangamon Street demolition project

Another pending project that is directly related to the downtown revitalization program is the demolition of the derelict building located at 127 South Sangamon Street.

Building and Safety Officer John Lebegue said the project had been let out for bid, with no good responses, so the bid requests had gone out for a second time. This week he had three bids for the demolition of the building. He read them off saying one had come in at $84,475, another at $82,548, and a third at $59,235.

The low bidder was Mexus Limited, who was the only company to bid on the project the first time. Lebegue said the firm had reduced their bid from that first time.

The demolition of the building was one of the recommendations made by the downtown steering committee as a means of utilizing remaining dollars for the DCEO grant they had received.

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In 2012, the city of Lincoln was awarded a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to be used for downtown revitalization. By order of the grant, a vast amount of the money was to be used for developing a revitalization plan. However, there were also dollars designated for projects.

In December of 2013, the steering committee came to the council with recommendations to spend the balance of the grant by doing the streetscape project on Pulaski and ordering demolition of the Sangamon Street building.

At that time, Patrick Doolin told the council there would be $40,000 in the grant that could pay for the demolition.

This week Lebegue noted the bid was higher than budgeted and said Snyder would discuss this.

Snyder said the bid was higher than expected in part because there had been additional requirements added to the work. He said one big part of it would be a seal that would have to be applied to a new exterior wall. In that block, buildings are joined by interior walls. Snyder explained the building next door to 127 has an interior wall that will need sealed in order to make a weather resistant exterior wall. In addition, there is foundation work that will have to be done to that same building to make it more secure.

Lebegue commented that this could be one reason the city didnít get many bids. He said this moved from a demolition project to a demolition and restoration project.

In addition, on the south side of 127 is an empty lot, left by a previous demolition project. Snyder said that area needs some work as it has settled over time.

He commented that the city would have to come up with the additional $19,000 from their general fund. He said he felt like the city could and should move forward.

He also noted as a fast-track demolition project there is a clock ticking on getting the work done. If the time limit expires, the process will have to begin again.

Jonie Tibbs asked about the safety of the structure and Lebegue told her that he considered this to be one of the most dangerous buildings in the city. Snyder reinforced that, saying, the city had not allowed asbestos inspectors inside the building because of concern for their safety. He concluded that because of the age of the building, the city has to assume there is asbestos present.

Snyder asked for a motion, and Neitzel offered it, committing the price from here on will only go up, so they might as well do this. The motion was seconded by Kathy Horn. With all eight members of the council present the motion passed unanimously.


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