Weather Forecast


City Council approves plans for $3 million west side improvement

The Morris City Council approved plans and specifications for a $3 million road construction project on the west side of Morris and authorized City Manager Blaine Hill to open the project for bids.

If the council votes to go forward with the project after seeing the construction bids, the project will affect all residents living on West 9th, 10th, and 11th Streets between Pacific Avenue and Park Avenue and residents of Idaho Avenue and Nevada Avenue between West 9th and Park Avenue.

The planned road reconstruction project will include reconstructing streets and repairing or replacing water mains, sanitary sewer lines, storm sewers, curb and gutter and sidewalks.

City Engineer Inspector Jay Fier said there have only been a few minor changes to the project since it was presented in a public hearing in October, including widening 9th Street and running a water main into Wells Park for future use.

"We had a pretty good internal discussion about trying to widen 9th Street as much as possible," said Hill. "It's not a very wide street ... but it probably has some of the nicest boulevards of trees that you could have."

Fier said widening 9th Street should only necessitate removing one tree, a large elm tree with some decay on it.

"As much as I love trees, this one I think could go," said Fier.

Fier said he expects to start construction around May 13 and finish around mid-November - a "very doable" timeline. Fier and City Engineer Jeff Kuhn are also working on developing the staging plan for the project, so any contractor would need to finish work in one area before starting to tear up another.

The total project cost estimate of $3 million is down about $320,000 from the initial estimate of $3.4 million, but Hill said he expects bids to come in under that estimate.

"We anticipate that we're going to get a lot of bidders on it because it's a big project," said Hill. "It's going to be a very competitive market."

Bids will be open from March 14 and bring the bids to the city council for review on March 26. At that time, the council will have to make a final decision about whether to move forward with the project.

After bids close, Hill and City Engineer Jeff Kuhn will review the bids and test out some special assessment calculations. This is the first street project where the city will consider whether to assess homeowners for the cost of pavement, and at what level to do those assessments.

During the public hearing in October, Hill proposed assessing homeowners 75 percent of the cost of pavement, water, and sanitary sewer. The city will assess 100 percent of the cost of curbs, gutters and sidewalks, and 50 percent of storm sewers (although this may be raised to 75 percent as well).

Hill said he has been telling property owners that he expects assessments on the project to be between $8,000 and $10,000 per home - "That's low for having a brand new road put in," said Hill.

Council emphasizes commitment to buy local

City Manager Blaine Hill told the council he had been approached by a local vendor who was upset about not being approached for a quote on a vehicle purchase.

"Apparently there was a number of assumptions made and there wasn't clear communication between the vendor and the city," Hill wrote in his report to the council.

"I can guarantee in the future that we'll always try to get a price from local vendors, even if we're looking at doing the state bid," said Hill.

Council member Jeff Miller agreed with Hill, commenting that the city council also works for local businesses.

"They're part of our tax base," said Miller. "They're paying, they're supporting us."

Other business

• Due to a conflict, Mayor Sheldon Giese and Council member Kevin Wohlers traded appointments to two city committees. Giese will now serve on the Morris Human Rights Commission while Kevin Wohlers will serve on the Tourism Board.

• The council approved a final payment to Kuechle Underground of $845 for an arch pipe extension on Pacific Avenue. The total cost for the project was about $16,900.

• The council scheduled a Board of Review meeting for Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 5:15 p.m.