The Euharlee City Council approved the bridge widening project during its Tuesday night meeting. While the original plan was to improve the intersection of Covered Bridge Road and 5 Forks Road in conjunction with widening the bridge, Planning and Zoning Administrator Ron Goss suggested breaking the project into two phases. He said he was concerned the city would have to foot most of the bill on the $322,851.90 project.
The amount, Goss said, was the lowest bid and submitted by Kirkpatrick & Sons.
Goss added that the contractor was ready to go “right away,” but he was not sure if the city could get the necessary financing from the Department of Transportation to cover most of the expenses.
“If you break it into a two-phase project and address the bridge first, that bridge is going to be somewhere around $105,000. If you take that approach, 70 percent of which is the DOT portion, is going to be almost at the $73,000 we have banked with them right now. If you go that route, it would be subject to the DOT’s approval,” Goss said.
DOT funding, Goss explained, could be held for a certain number of years and he was unsure if multiple years of funding could be rolled together and applied to one project. While the city could put its own funds toward the whole project, Goss cautioned the council against spending too much on the intersection and bridge when the city was also working on its walking trail system.
“You have to almost look at these two things together,” Goss said of the trails and road projects. “I don’t think you want to get the city cash poor by doing projects.”
As the council discussed the issue among itself, a consensus formed around doing the bridge by itself and tackling the intersection later. The opening of Joe Cowan Park later this year weighed on their decision.
“Doing nothing is not an option, because that bridge is going to be an issue 1 1/2 months from now,” said council member Craig Guyton.
The council then approved work on the bridge alone in an amount not to exceed $105,000.
Joe Cowan Park itself also had the council’s attention as they heard updates on its progress and approved monthly payables relating to it.
“We have filled up our practice slots for the new park already, which I didn’t anticipate really until the beginning of October,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mark Mathison. “We are at full capacity, essentially, right now. So we are ahead of where we want to be for teams playing out there.”
Guyton also added Mathison had booked the park’s first tournament for Sept. 21.
Goss, before reading off his list of payables, said he knew the deadline was fast approaching.
“Well I will say this, from an encouraging standpoint, it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have four weeks of minimal rain. ... So it is exciting to see what can be done when the weather cooperates. Yes, I’m aware of the schedule, we’re working as quickly as we can,” he said.
The payables covered some items involved in finishing the park, such as handrail installation, electricians and some additional sodding at the entrance. The payables came to an approximate $116,000 total.
The council also approved the purchase of a used field surface machine in the amount of $11,000. With 428 hours, Goss described the machine as lightly used and a deal in comparison to the $30,436.91 price tag of a new machine.
Other city council business included:
• Approving an amendment to the alcohol and beverage ordinance which would allow licensed bartenders to serve alcohol during events, such as wedding receptions, held on city property.
• Approving the rezoning of the Presbyterian Education Building on Covered Bridge Road to commercial.
• Approving an agreement with Coventry Health Care for city employees’ health insurance.
• Approving Footprints on the Heart’s request to use city property for its 5K and candlelight vigil in 2014.
• Approving multiple contracts related to finishing Joe Cowan Park, such as a gate for the entrance and canopies for the bleachers.
• Approving a budget amendment allowing Parks and Recreation to purchase the field surfacer for Joe Cowan Park.
• Setting the millage rate at 1 mill and rolling the rate back to zero.
• Not waiving application fees for county residents interested in being annexed into the city.
• Going into an executive session to discuss attorney-client privilege.
The Euharlee City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. at city hall.