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W’bago project bid comes in at $8.9M

By Staff | Oct 14, 2018

With city engineer Travis Winter absent, a member of the Bolton & Menk team was present at the Winnebago City Council to discuss some upsetting news regarding the city’s Northwest Street Reconstruction Project.

“We received four bids on the project, the lowest one came from Holtmeier Construction at $8.9 million,” said Jason Zinter. “I know this is not the number we were looking for. The council could potentially hold a special meeting, or wait until the next council meeting to award the project. The next three bidders came in at $10 million or more.”

Zinter?stated the council had 91 days to decide, and if there was no bid awarded after the 91 days, the city could restart the bidding process, ultimately delaying the project.

Council members questioned why the bids for the project came in so high. Zinter?stated the reasons were due to a projected shortage for American iron, higher labor costs, and the fact that Minnesota is down three concrete suppliers for projects of this magnitude.

The last time the city of Winnebago considered improvements to the northwest area of Winnebago was in 1980, and it was uncertain if the council at that time had even made it to the bidding portion of the project.

“I’d like to see it done but I think we all agreed with the bid letting that we would be sensible,” said councilman Scott Robertson. “I am surprised, I mean, maybe wait until spring, see if bids go down.”

“I would definitely not wait until spring,” Zinter?responded. “That’s too late, especially for a job of this size. If any of these contractors pick up work by that time, like January or February, then they don’t have the capacity to do a project of this size.”

“One of my problems is, when we presented it to the community in the beginning, we were at about $6.3 million, then to $7.9 million, and we would try to go after $3 million to cut that in half and the city would bedebting that to the project,” said councilman Rick Johnson. “If we take that now, we’re debting the whole thing like there is no grant money or anything and we’re still putting on the debt that we originated and everyone thought that would be way to high at that point. If that’s the debt the city would be taking on. I have major problems with that.”

“That doesn’t include any soft costs, acquisitions, engineering, financing fees, et cetera,” said Zinter. “That’s just construction costs.”

“This is a huge pill to swallow,” said councilwoman Jean Anderson. “A pill that should have been swallowed in the ’80s. But we have invested all of this time and money to go this far and we may have to readdress a few things, but we can’t stop at this point, it’s bad over there. It was bad when I lived there 50 years ago.?I think we still have to go ahead with the project.”

Anderson said she felt waiting for spring was a hindrance to the project as well.

“I want to see it done too but, due diligence, we try and water this thing down or something, I don’t know,” said Robertson.

“We don’t have to decide tonight, right? I think we need to really look into it and decide if that’s the best option, and see if we can save money elsewhere,” said Anderson.

Zinter said there were not too many items in the project that were up for negotiating without greatly compromising the project.

“I think we need to put some more work into this and see what we can come up with,” said city administrator Chris Ziegler after Councilwoman Anderson requested Ziegler’s input.

“All the work we put into this, it was really tough to listen to those prices. I’m surprised,” said Robertson. “Not pleasantly surprised, either.”

Holtmeier Construction previously worked with Winnebago on their First Avenue project, and Zinter held the construction team in high regard.

“I work with them everyday,” said councilman Paul Eisenmenger. “They definitely have the horsepower to do this project.”

The council ultimately decided to use a few of their 91 days to look over the project again, saving the topic for their November meeting and not setting a special meeting to award any bids to the project.

In other business, the Winnebago City Council:

Approved over $6,000 in charitable donations to the city of Winnebago from the Roger Hanson Memorial, the Lyndon Krause Memorial, the Ladies Brunch, the Winnebago Lions Club, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Savior, United Hospital District, and many area businesses and residents.

“A tremendous thank you to all of the donors of these funds,” said Johnson. A majority of the donations were set aside for the Winnebago Community Pool’s upgrades.

Looked at setting fees and rates for 2019, increasing pool fees for family season passes from $80 to $100, adult season passes from $60 to $70, student season passes from $50 to $60, and swimming lessons from $25 to $30.

“I think we need to be sure these costs are feasible for all of our families in the area, that’s a big concern of mine,” said Mayor Jeremiah Schutt. The city’s deputy clerk, Jessi Sturtz, stated the fees, though they increased, are still the lowest in the county.

With that, the council approved Resolution 662-2018, setting the fees and rates for 2019.

Passed Resolution 663-2018, authorizing the city of Winnebago to submit information to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority to enter into a grant agreement for the city. Administrator Ziegler stated that though they had not made decisions on the Northwest area project, they needed to pass the resolution in order to access the funding.

Discussed a letter received from Bret Osborn to the city regarding his business, Ron’s Trenching which requested the city rezone his property along with long-time feuding neighbor Gary Osborn.

“Have you guys tried being good neighbors?” asked councilman Robertson. “We’re not a court up here. This has gone way beyond what it should.”

City attorney David Frundt suggested the city talk to the League of Minnesota Cities to see if this would merit investigation, considering the layers of the neighbors’ long-running feud. The city then later agreed to Frundt’s suggestion, while the request for rezoning was sent to Winnebago’s Planning and Zoning board.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13, at 7 p.m.