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Split vote on BE airport projects

By Staff | Sep 28, 2009

Improvements to the Blue Earth airport continue to cause dissension among the city council.

While they have not yet decided on a runway expansion project, even votes on smaller expenditures cause some disagreements.

On Monday, a vote to proceed with the purchase of a credit card fuel dispensing system and a standby generator passed on a 5-2 vote.

Councilmen Dan Brod and Les Wiborg cast the dissenting votes.

City Engineer William Sayre of Bolton and Menk presented the bids received for both items.

There were two bids for the credit card fuel dispenser, with the lower one from O’Day Equipment for $17,974.

The lowest of three bids for the generator was from Electric Service Company for $38,500.

That bid was $8,500 over the engineer’s estimate of $30,000 and the council questioned why.

Sayre says the estimate is a number that has been carried on a scheduled project list for several years, without being increased.

Sayre also points out that the State of Minnesota will pay for half the cost of thecredit card fuel dispenser, and 70 percent of the generator.

“The cost to the city for both items will total $20,537,” he explains.

The council discussed the actual need for either item. Sayre says both are needed, but are not critical to the airport operation.

Brod says the airport sold only 30,000 gallons of fuel last year, and was not sure the card system was warranted.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey explained that more fuel could be sold, if it was more convenient. Sayre agreed, adding that pilots know where they can get fuel after hours.

The debate on the generator focused on the need for uninterrupted power.

“It is a safety issue,” Sayre says, adding that the generator will automatically come on line if there is an interruption in electrical service.

Councilman Wiborg questioned how many times electrical outages have occurred in the past, and no one was able to answer it.

Sayre also gave an update on two street projects.

The project on Eighth and Moore has been completed as far as the 2009 scheduled work.

Seeding and sodding is complete, and the barricades have all been removed.

However, work is scheduled to begin this week on the Tenth and Moore Street project, which will include sewer, water and street resurfacing.

Sayre says it is not the same construction company that worked on Eighth and Moore, but they are hoping to complete a majority of the work in 2009.

“It depends on the weather, but they want to do as much as they can and put one layer of asphalt on this fall,” he explained.

Starting on Monday, crews should be milling off the street on the three blocks of the project.

“The work on Tenth Street, between Moore and Main, will extend out into the intersection of Tenth and Main,” Sayre said. “This will mean we will have to detour traffic on South Main for a period of time.”

Sayre said some of the storm sewer replacement in that area will need trenches over 17 feet deep.

“With just three blocks to do, they hope to be finished and laying blacktop yet this year,” Sayre concluded.