by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — After years of planning, discussions, grant and loan applications, financing, engineering and surveys, the long awaited Northlands project is finally, officially, ready to begin as the city council this week awarded construction contacts.
Representatives from GMS Inc., the city’s consulting engineers presented the low bid winners during the regular council meeting. With six members present, the council voted unanimously to award the three contracts to KR Swerdfeger Construction of Pueblo and Hatibat Construction LLC of Rocky Ford.
The city this week is applying for additional loan or grant funds totaling $130,819 from USDA Rural Development to make up a small shortfall in that portion of the project. But the city will not incur any up front costs associated with the request.
Contract One ( KR Swerdfeger) covers the Huajatolla Hills Sanitary Sewer Collection system and is worth $336,612. There were seven overall bidders for this portion of the project.
Contract Two (KR Swerdfeger) covers the Northlands Gravity Sanitary Sewer System and Lift Station. The winning bid was worth $3,270,250. There were four bidders for this contract.
Contract Three (Hatibat Construction LLC) covers the Northland Sanitary Sewer Force Main and is worth $807,870. Eight bids were received for this part of the project.
No specific date for construction to begin was announced. All of the winning bids came in lower than engineering expectations.
Property owners, Northlands General Improvement District members, and long-time supporters of the project, George and Monica Birrer and former Walsenburg mayor Larry Patrick were in the audience to watch as the project took a final step towards completion.
While no shovels have turned dirt yet, with Northlands set to begin and the Love’s annexation progressing on the south side, focus will soon turn to the Walsenburg downtown area. While there are many projects and proposals involving the downtown area, Walsenburg Administrator Leslie Klusmire is working to establish a stakeholders group to bring varied opinions and individuals together to create an overall vision for the future.
Klusmire has been working with Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha and Lee Merkel from the state, to bring projects such as the CDOT bike and pedestrian grant and the judicial building issue in line with an overall plan for the future. Department of Local Affairs staffers will facilitate a meeting May 19 at La Plaza Inn in Walsenburg for the stakeholders group and an all-day meeting with Downtown Colorado Inc., is planned for June 3. At that session, the public will be able to see some of the plans currently proposed during a short open house. Discussions are expected to explore leveraging grant funds as possible matching dollars for other grant applications.
The top three priorities of the $1.3 million CDOT I-25 corridor grant have been identified as a marked crossing on Seventh Street adjacent to Walsenburg Wild Waters; a similar marked crossing of Walsen Avenue near the Spanish Peaks Public Library and work at the pinch point at the culvert/ bridge located near First Choice and Family Dollar on Walsen Ave. to allow for safe pedestrian and bike use at that location.
In other business Tuesday:
- Council approved a three year expenditure of $9,000 total for purchase of eight Watch Guard brand body cameras for the police department. This passed on a 5-0 vote with councilman John Salazar abstaining as an employee of the WPD.
- Awarded a much needed electrical work contract for the city shop to Tom’s Electric LLC of Trinidad for $6,850.
- Authorized administration to set up multi-year utilities payment plans with three percent interest included. • Authorized administration to hire either two part time or one full time temporary employee in the gas department to work exclusively on gas meter replacement over the next six months.
- Approved on a five to one vote (Charlies Montoya voting no and Dennis Hoyt absent) to establish a tier system for marijuana cultivation operating renewals.
- Agreed in principal to lease a portion of the train depot to Huerfano County Planning Department. Walsenburg’s building inspector Rick Dunn is expected to be co-located at the site. The temporary lease will allow the county to continue remodeling office space in the courthouse and the depot will retain space for the Visitors Center operated by the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation.