by Dennis Dalman
All three bids for a proposed drainage-improvement project for the Celebration neighborhood of Sartell were rejected by the Sartell City Council at its last meeting, and the project will be up for bids once again.
The council rejected the bids unanimously on a 5-0 vote.
The reason for the rejection is the bids had come in substantially in excess of the engineering estimate for the project. The bids were opened Aug. 15 at city hall, and the lowest of the bids was $584,865, submitted by Hardrives Inc. of Rogers. The estimated city’s share of the cost of the project was $359,544, said city engineer Jon Halter of the firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.
Halter recommended the project go up for bids this winter – either in January or February, and the project work could then begin in the summer months of 2019. Residents of the Celebration neighborhood will be notified by letter of the delay.
Halter said there could be inter-related reasons why the bids were so in excess of estimated costs: the estimate having been too low; seasonal factors such as a shorter construction season; a spike in costs of materials. Halter added the winter months would be a better “bidding climate” for the project.
Council member Mike Chisum said he is concerned accepting such higher-than-expected bids could cause assessments to residents to climb higher.
The Celebration drainage problem has surfaced many times during the past year at city council meetings. Finally, at the July 9 meeting, council members voted unanimously to proceed with the project to improve drainage in the streets and alleys of that neighborhood. The council at that time authorized advertising for bids.
For years, many of the residents of Celebration experienced drainage problems, causing water to pool up, especially in alleys, causing slimy patches, frozen areas and slippery conditions that prompted safety worries. Residents there used sump pumps but had, at best, spotty success in getting rid of the pooled-up water.