by Nicole Brodzik
During the June 19 Minnetrista City Council meeting, the city got an update on the finishing touches being put in the new North and South Water Treatment Plants before awarding bids on the Halstead Drive Road Improvement Project.
Chris Larson of SEH Engineering presented the latest updates to the council at the start of the meeting.
“We go through create punch list– what the contractors have left to complete,” Larson said. “Most things are minor, like painting or adjusting doors. About two months ago, that list had 245 items about 2 months ago. As of today, 15 items remain.”
Larson said that for all intents and purposes the water treatment plants are complete and that residents are receiving treated water. Most of the work left to do, according to Larson, is cosmetic in nature.
“I’m glad we have treated water and now with the water tower cleaned and the hydrant flushing almost done, it’s all good,” Mayor Lisa Whalen said.
The next order of business was to approve a bid for the Halstead Drive Improvement Project. The city was to chose from four bidders, with the lowest bid coming in from RAM Excavating Services, Inc. at $2,463,996.55. That bid was $297,368.45 less than the city’s original estimate.
“It’s a good big and about $220,000 lower than the second lowest bid,” City Engineer Paul Hornby said. “This company doesn’t have a history of linear projects, but they have hired staff that does. They’ve worked on fairly large transportation projects.”
Councilmember Patricia Thoele said she had some concerns about awarding the project to RAM Excavating knowing they haven’t done any linear, or road, projects in the past.
“Halstead drive seems it will be fairly complex,” Thoele said. “I want to make sure whatever contractor we choose has significant experience with this type of road. Any bid is under what we forecasted it would cost, so I want us to be thorough in choosing the best contractor, not just the least expensive, so we minimize the number of surprises.”
Hornby said that he had done research into the history of the individuals who would be involved in the project and said he had no doubts RAM Excavating would be a suitable partner for the city on this matter.
“This project is largely excavation and embankment,” Hornby said. “They’re an excavator. The people they’re bringing in, in fact people who brought the bid in, has worked with to open road division in this company. I think certainly they can do the work.”
City Attorney Ron Batty went on to say that they city is legally obligated to chose the lowest responsible bidder.
“I certainly understand,” he said of Thoele’s concern. “One of the challenges in dealing with public bids is we’re required by law to award to lowest responsible bidder. I think Mr. Hornby was saying that while these folks don’t have experience in building this kind of project, they are assembling a team of individuals who have done this work with other companies. He sees them as a responsible bidder.”
Councilmember Shannon Bruce also asked why the fiscal impact statement on the proposed action did not include the fact that there would be bonds used to cover the costs and could not rely solely on their reconstruction fund. After some discussion among the council and staff, the language was added to the resolution, which was passed unanimously by the council.