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City awards contract for water quality project

By James Grob,

The Charles City Council approved final plans and specifications and awarded a contract to Farm TilePro of Osage for the 2020 Southwest Development Park Water Quality Initiative Improvements Project at Monday’s meeting.

The council had approved the preliminary plans for the project and authorized taking bids for the construction work at the Sept. 28 meeting. Bids were opened on Oct. 15, and nine were received. Skyline’s base bid was $313,944.50. The estimated probable cost for the project had been $362,000 for the base bid.

Due to increased storm water runoff and localized flooding in the Southwest Development Park, the Charles City Area Development Corp. had retained SEH Engineers to perform a drainage study of the area, then the city used SEH to prepare plans and specifications to construct the drainage improvements as defined in the study.

Last year, a drainage improvement project was let and multiple bids were received. All the bids received exceeded the project budget, so the bids were rejected.

Working with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), the city received a water quality initiative grant in the amount of $100,000. As part of the grant, the existing detention pond on the south side of Rove Street will be converted to a wet pond using a controlled release structure. The water feature will allow particles in the water to settle out before being discharged downstream.

In other action Monday, the council approved architectural services for electrical upgrades at North Cedar Terrace and approved a contract for a topographical survey at North Cedar.

The council received three proposals for the proposed upgrade from area architectural/engineering firms to prepare specifications, bidding documents and assist with procurement and project administration. Proposals were received from Atura Architecture ($34,500), Skott and Anderson Architects ($23,500) and KCL Engineering ($19,500).

The Housing Department recommended accepting the proposal from Skott and Anderson Architects.

“Even thought they are not the lowest, they prepared the specifications and managed the same project at South Cedar Terrace and the project went well without any major issues,” the Housing Department stated.

The council was informed that the plan is to do the design work over the winter, go out for bids in the spring with a completion date by fall of 2021. Most of the project will be funded through the 2021 Capital Fund Grant. Depending on the cost, it may be necessary to utilize some program reserves.

Part of the planned electrical upgrade project requires boring or trenching the electrical service primary loop and secondaries to each building, which requires location of the underground utilities. Because the site plans don’t accurately reflect the location of some of the underground utilities, a survey is necessary, and can be utilized on future projects.

Ed Wineinger, from Skott & Anderson, has prepared a request for proposal (RFP) with the scope and requirements of the survey. It is anticipated that the survey will cost between $10,000 and $12,000.

Also Monday, the council unanimously approved a development agreement with Cambrex that will grant the company a $40,000 forgivable loan.

Last summer, Cambrex Charles City Inc. announced a $49.29 million expansion project which will create 32 new jobs that exceed the qualifying wage of $17.81 per hour. This qualified Cambrex for state incentives from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). On July 17, the IEDA board generally supported an award to Cambrex in the amount of $250,000 in direct financial assistance, as well as tax benefits via the Iowa High Quality Job program.

The program requires a certain level of local government support, which the city will provide with the forgivable loan. Diers said the loan will be paid out of the general fund.

In other action, the council unanimously approved an agreement with the City Improvement Association (CIA) for maintenance of parks the group owns.

City administrator Steve Diers said that historically, the city has three-year agreements with CIA to maintain the parks through the Parks and Recreation Department. Jobs such as trash disposal, mowing and general clean-up and repair are done for a nominal fee.

Parks and Rec Director Tyler Mitchell said there were no changes from the previous agreement. He said that expenses vary from year to year, but the cost was about $5,500 at the high end.

The council also approved a payment estimate for Portzen Construction in the amount of $942,047.48, mainly for construction work on the equalization basin, reed beds and process piping for ongoing work on the Water Resource Recovery Facility project. Fox Engineering reviewed the payment request and recommended approval.

The council also unanimously accepted a Planning and Zoning recommendation to deny a rezoning request by Michael and Colette Hall for property they own located at 1002 8th Avenue. The area is currently zoned as a general residence district, and the Halls are requesting the parcel’s zoning be changed to a light manufacturing district.

Michael Hall explained to the council that two storage buildings are currently located on the property and have been for many years. The storage buildings predate the city’s zoning ordinance. Hall would like to construct additional storage buildings and this use is not currently permitted.

The Halls submitted a petition to rezone the property to Planning and Zoning commission, which recommended against the request based on permitted uses allowed in a manufacturing zoning district and their incompatibility adjacent to residential districts, comments received from surrounding property owners, and the current process to rewrite the zoning ordinance.

The council agreed with the recommendation to deny the zoning change.

The council also heard final readings and unanimously adopted and published an ordinance amending the City Code to increase the fine amounts for misdemeanors to mirror the state code and an ordinance amending city provisions pertaining to animal neglect to mirror updates to the state code.

The council also approved the lease agreement with the Charles City Fine Arts Council for the Carnegie Building, which was set to expire in December. No changes were made to the lease.