EVANSTON — After several weeks of discussion, Resolution 17-09 came before the council once again at Tuesday night’s Evanston City Council meeting. This resolution provides authorization for the city to contract with Forsgren Associates, Inc. to provide a “completeness certification” for the Bear Meadows Project.
“We’ve been discussing this for some time now,” said Mayor Kent Williams. “No one is thrilled over this, but I believe it will bring this to a conclusion.”
Williams apologized to the council for not bringing the Forsgren contract to the council for discussion first, stating he made assumptions that didn’t work out.
The initial resolution failed to pass during the Feb. 21 council meeting in a tie vote, which led to inviting Forsgren to the Feb. 28 work session meeting to discuss the issue further. Williams, along with Councilman Evan Perkes and Councilwoman Wendy Schuler voted for the resolution on Feb. 21, while Councilmen Andy Kopp, Mike Sellers and Tim Lynch voted against it. Councilman David Welling wasn’t at the Feb. 21 meeting.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Kopp stood alone in opposition to the resolution, as Lynch and Sellers flip-flopped their stance and Welling’s return resulted in a 6-1 vote to pay another $7,000 for the Bear Meadows project.
The completeness certification for the project is required by the Wyoming Business Council (WBC), since they provided grant money totaling about $500,000 for the project. Should the project not pass inspection by June 1, the city would have to repay the funds to the WBC.
In a letter dated Dec. 6, 2016, from the WBC, the organization approved an extension until June 1 of this year.
“In accordance with the agreement between the city and the WBC,” the letter stated, “a letter from a qualified engineer (city engineer or third party) is requested.”
The letter, according to the WBC, must certify the construction completion of the project and certify all required construction standards were adhered to during the construction of the project.
Brent Sanders of Cook-Sanders, who was the project manager for most of the project, pointed out several items in 2015 that needed to be addressed at Bear Meadows, and he recently told the Herald that to his knowledge many of those items were never addressed, indicating the project might be at risk for failing a proper inspection.
Should any problems show up during the inspection, the city would have to pay to fix them or fix them in-house since the project is no longer under warranty.
City officials have praised the project and Evanston City Engineer Brian Honey, who took over as project manager after the city apparently terminated its contract with Sanders. Officials, including Honey, have called the project “complete” on several occasions, but Honey chose not to inspect the project himself for the completeness certificate required by the WBC.
Instead, Forsgren will inspect Bear Meadows, something Sanders said is confusing. Sanders sent a letter to the city council and mayor last week offering his assistance should Forsgren have any questions about the project.
“I think the letter from the WBC says it all,” said Schuler. “I believe it supports our need to do this.”
Tim Lynch echoed Schuler, saying it could not have been said any better.
In other business, council members shared their praise and appreciation of Honey for his many years of service.
After 30 years of service to the City of Evanston, Honey is retiring and department heads and council members alike were excited and saddened to say goodbye.
“Congratulations to you, Brian, for the years of service to the city,” Lynch said.
Many echoed Lynch’s sentiments, and Welling added that he was envious of Honey’s retirement.
“We give our appreciation to you for your integrity, steadiness and forthrightness,” said Williams. “The benefit to this community is yet to be known. You go with great respect and appreciation. Thank you on behalf of a grateful city.”
Schuler wished Honey the best of luck in the new season and new adventures he and his wife are taking on.
“You have been a person of honesty and integrity,” she said. “You are irreplaceable.”
Honey was asked to share any thoughts and words he had for the council. He approached the podium and was visibly touched.
“What do you say after 30 years? I have been to a lot of meetings in this room,” he said. “You plan and make plans for retirement, but it is hard to finally pull the plug.”
Honey started his career with the city in 1987, when Dennis Ottley was mayor.
Honey mentioned a few of the major projects he had the privilege of working on during his 30 years with the city, including the Sulphur Creek Dam and pipeline redesign, renovation to the old water treatment plant and construction of the new plant, Bear Ice Ponds, river rock project, Bear Trail project and water rights negotiations.
Honey said many of the projects done for the city and the timing of those projects have saved the community money over the years and he hopes they have made the lives of community members better.
“What can I say but ‘thank you’ to you all and to the councils before you? This has been my life work, my passion and my honor,” he said. “… It is tough.”
Mayor Williams, visibly moved, told Honey he will be greatly missed.
In other business, the council unanimously approved a three-year appointment for Evan Perkes on the Human Service Joint Powers Board.
In their second reading, the council approved both Ordinance 17-01 and 17-02. Both ordinances amend and remove old language on the city books dealing with electrical permits and inspectors and building permit fees.
“These are housekeeping changes to our city codes,” said Williams. “We want to make sure our language and codes are current.”
Closing out the meeting, a motion to award the bid for the 2017 Union Center Fiber Conduit Project unanimously failed to pass. According to Honey, the budget for the project was set at approximately $150,000 and each of the five bids was well over the budget.
The city entered into an agreement with All West Communications in 2016 connected to the conduit project. In the agreement, All West would purchase two of the three conduits being done in the project. They agreed to pay two-thirds of the cost to install the conduits; and had the option to back out if the bids came in over the $150,000.
After much discussion, the city decided to restructure some of the project specs and re-advertise for new bids.
“We want to be transparent with the project,” said Williams. “We hope all of the original companies will rebid the project.”
Evanston City Clerk Amy Grenfell said, “We appreciate the efforts of those who did bid on the project, but we felt it was appropriate to rebid it due to the new specs.”
All West officials agree with rebidding the project in hopes of receiving a bid that will meet the project budget and still desire to purchase the two conduits if the city awards a budget-friendly bid.