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Posted: April 30, 2013 Barstow St. project vote delayed so merchants can suggest tweaks

By Andrew Dowd Leader-Telegram staff

Posted Tuesday, April 23

To see article go here.


Barstow St. project vote delayed so merchants can suggest tweaks


Downtown Eau Claire businesses have three weeks to suggest changes to this summer's South Barstow Street construction project before the City Council must vote on it.

The council voted 11-0 Tuesday to delay action on accepting a contractor's bid until May 14 amid requests from property owners and merchants to change details in the project's design. But the city won't be able to postpone it after that.

"As long as we hit the next council meeting, we'll be OK," deputy city engineer Doug Derks said. "If you go past that council meeting, the project's done for the year."

So far only one landowner has requested changes to plans approved on Feb. 12 by the City Council, Derks said, but he believes there could be more contemplating them.

Council President Kerry Kincaid noted that the project's been planned through public meetings held in the past two years.

"I also understand there are lingering questions about these last design elements," she said.

Namely, those concerns are on small landscaped areas along sidewalks called "parklets," the city's choice of plants, snow removal, sidewalks and location of trees.

As it was presented and approved by the council on Feb. 12, the project's plan includes 17 parklets and 25 trees along the sidewalk.

A letter from John Mogensen and Lisa Aspenson, a couple who own several downtown buildings, mentions that they'd want to see five of the parklets replaced by street trees.

The parklet planned in front of the Acoustic Cafe, 505 S. Barstow St., would make the restaurant lose the summer seating it currently has along the sidewalk.

Their April 9 letter noted other small changes they'd like to see to the plans to add a few parking spots, change location of trees and other alterations they suggest will be better for businesses in their buildings.

The three-week delay allows a volunteer design committee of downtown businesses, the South Barstow Business Improvement District and others to suggest changes to the plan.

"It's important to give these businesses and the design committee time to take a look at a few of those," Councilman Bob Von Haden said.

Even though they might be minor changes that could be done during construction and won't change the total price tag of the project, he said it will be good to have those concerns addressed before the bid is approved.

While the council is spending added time to hear those suggestions, making final decisions on the project is the duty of the City Council.

"The responsibility does lie with us," Kincaid said.

Haas Sons of Thorp had the lowest bid, $1.57 million, for the street, sidewalk and utility construction for the South Barstow Street project. The contract states the project will begin on May 28, and there's an incentive of $5,000 for each day - up to a maximum of $50,000 - the contractor finishes the street before Aug. 16.

Lighting Design Solutions of Schofield bid $115,846 to provide streetlights.

When engineering and contingency costs are added, the total budget for the South Barstow Street project is $2 million

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