Saturday, May 24, 2014
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Phase one of downtown Lincoln streetscape to begin

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[May 24, 2014]  LINCOLN - On Monday evening Patrick Doolin, Darren Forgy, David Lanterman and Bob Neal of the Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee offered an update to the Lincoln City council. The group now has everything in order so they may begin the revitalization of one block of Pulaski Street on the downtown square.

The group is also ready to start one demolition project, removing the dangerous and unsightly abandoned building located at 217 S. Sangamon Street.

Doolin spoke for the group and began by discussing the demolition project. The building to be demolished is located next door to the former Alexander Lumber Company. It is attached to a network of buildings on the north side and an empty lot to the south.

Doolin said the group is taking bids for the demolition of the building and expect to award a bidder in the first week of June.

He was asked what the plan was for the vacant lot. The building actually still belongs to Mark Gates. The committee has gone through the fast track demolition process with the city in order to take it down. In that process, the city has the right to demolish the building, then they may place a lien on it for the cost of the demolition. But, the building does not belong to the city.

Doolin said the demolition project would include cleaning up the lot, and nothing more. There are no future plans for the location because the city doesn’t own it, nor does it anticipate owning it in the near future.

Moving on to the work to be done on Pulaski Street, Doolin said bids had been received for the project. The bids came in higher than the committee had hoped for, so there will be a few changes to the scope of work.

The initial plan included new sidewalk and curb, outsets at the intersections, decorative lighting, and other ornamental components. The work was to be done on the full block of Pulaski, plus around the corners and to the south on Kickapoo and McLean Streets for a short distance. There was also a recommendation to do the corners only on the west side of the street at Kickapoo and Pulaski and the east side of the street at McLean and Pulaski. This would give the south side of the intersections a finished look.

In December of last year, the committee presented the plan they wanted approved and discussed the dollars that would be needed to complete it. The committee has $302,000 left in the original revitalization grant from the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity.

The group had estimated in December a total cost of $587,000 for the project, with the grant covering $302,000 and the city covering the balance. The city approved that recommendation with plans to utilize dollars from the Utility Tax to cover their share of the cost. However, at that time, they stipulated that if the bids came in higher, the committee would have to determine what portions of the plan to delete in order to stay within their budget.

There were two bids for the project, which have been opened and reviewed. Both bids came in higher than estimated, but the lower bid was that of Illinois Civil Contractors, Inc. of East Peoria.

Doolin said because the bids came in too high and there was a stipulation with the city, there are portions of the work that need to be taken out.

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To keep the project within budget, Doolin said the city would remove the existing trees instead of the contractor. Work to be done on the west side of the old Oasis on South Kickapoo, and the curb extensions on the east side of McLean at the church will be eliminated as well.

There will also be a need to postpone the decorative lighting in the project. Doolin said the lighting would be stubbed in, but there would be no posts or lights installed at this time.

He explained to the council that with these cuts, the project can be done within budget. He said what he needed from the council was an approval of the changes and the authority to execute a change of order with the contractor. He explained that if the city does the change of order, the project will not have to be re-bid and work can begin in the very near future.

He said moving forward as quickly as possible would be necessary if the project is to be at least substantially completed before the Art and Balloon Festival.

As part of the discussion after Doolin’s presentation, the topic came up as to who was going to maintain the decorative aspects of the street after they were completed.

Mayor Keith Snyder said that as is the case with the planters around the square now, the city will count on volunteers such as the Lincoln Rotary and From the Ground Up groups to help keep things looking nice.

In regard to street cleaning, it was also mentioned that street superintendent Walt Landers has already been talking with street departments in other communities about how they clean and offer snow removal on streets with curb extensions. It was noted that he’s learning what he needs to know now so the city will be prepared once the project is complete.

When the vote was taken, the council agreed unanimously to allow the committee to move forward per their new recommendations.

The final comments came from Scott Cooper who said he’s seen this same type of work in Decatur. He noted that having seen both the ‘before’ and ‘after’, he was impressed, and looking forward to seeing the same thing in Lincoln.


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