IRON RIVER—At a special meeting of the Iron River City Council on March 12, the Genesee Street DIG (Downtown Infrastructure Grant) grant bid was awarded to Ruotsala Concrete Construction of Ironwood.
The council received three bids on the project, which will be funded in part from a grant by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The lowest bid, from Ruotsala, came in at $714,236, slightly lower than the other two competitors, according to GEI Consultants’ Craig Richardson.
“[Ruotsala] does their own electrical, and concrete work and concrete is a very large portion of this job,” Richardson said. “So they don’t have to deal with markups and coordinate subcontractors like the others would.”
The bid is still about $78,000 over what was budgeted for the project, Richardson said. City Manager Perry Franzoi stated that overage can come from a rebate of $36,771 from MDOT on the Lay Avenue project, TIF (Tax Increment Financing) funds, the major streets fund and the sewer fund.
Franzoi noted that it might be best to wait a bit on a budget amendment to specifically detail where the balance of the money will come from.
“I would suggest waiting to see where we end up with all the other things we’ve got going on.”
The start of the project will depend on the weather and weight restrictions being lifted, though hopes are that it will begin in May.
Mayor Terry Tarsi noted his concern about the finish date.
Richardson replied that the contract with Ruotsala states that if the company is not on site and making progress for seven consecutive days, it will start being penalized $1,000 a day.
“That’s some leverage you’ll have. They have to keep making progress.”
Richardson also discussed concerns about traffic for Genesee Street businesses.
“Most of the businesses can still use the back entrance,” he said. “It’s not desirable, but it does allow the project to get done more cost-effectively and quicker,” he said.
During the council’s regular monthly meeting on March 19, discussion continued on the big topic of the last two months–water line freeze-ups and the costs involved in dealing with water issues.
Franzoi said the total current expenses involved range from $57,000 to $67,000.
“It’s just getting to be out of hand, really,” Tarsi said.
Franzoi said that freeze-ups have declined with the let-run order, but some are still occurring. Frozen water-lines are only part of the problem, which will not end when the temperatures start to rise.
“When the frost starts unthawing, I think we’re going to have severe, severe problems with water-line breaks. And you can already see the effects on roads and sidewalks heaving.
“We are going to have a very rough and expensive spring to close out the fiscal year here.”
In other business, the council received a report on the IronLine sled dog race held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Race director Josh Brindle said the second year of the race was a big success with a “great city response” and kept $4,300 in the community, which doubles last year’s total.
He also stated that responses have been positive from the racing community.
“Responses have been that this is a solid race, this is a race that’s going to continue, these people know what they’re doing and we like this town,” Brindle said. “You can’t do better than that, and so we’ve got a race from year to year.”
Also, Franzoi stated in his report that the Iron River Police Department issued three citations for various blight violations in the past week. On March 14, the department took pictures of 20 homes on the noxious weed list. All the properties are abandoned and unoccupied, and the majority of them are owned by out-of-town and out-of-state property owners.
The blight issue has long rankled Tarsi.
“This has been on the top of my list for awhile. Ninety percent of these citations are for people that live in Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi, all over the place. They’re sucking up these homes and then letting them sit there and deteriorate and rot.
“It’s time we go after them. I want to thank the police department for doing this enforcement.”
The council also awarded the bid to renovate the Chamber of Commerce sign to Nicolet Sign and Design.