From left are councilman Robbie Skinner, city recorder Randy Sanders and mayor David McCauley.

City, contractor partner to mitigate cost of sidewalk rebuild in front of Innovation Center

BUCKHANNON – Constructing a sidewalk in front of the Upshur County Development Authority’s Innovation Center at the corner of Spring and Main streets will be trickier – and more costly – than originally anticipated, with the amount exceeding what the Street Department had allocated in its budget, Buckhannon City Council learned at its meeting Tuesday.

In an effort to mitigate the cost for the street department – and also address a problem with pooling rainwater at the east corner of Spring Street – the City of Buckhannon and the contractor building the center, Danhill Construction Company, are entering into an agreement, they said at council’s meeting.

The extra cost comes from the building being “stepped” and the need to ensure the innovation center flows with the sidewalk and Main Street, UCDA executive director Rob Hinton explained.

According to the terms of the agreement, Danhill Construction will pay for up to $8,100 to cover the cost of the sidewalk/street rebuild with the city picking up the remainder of the tab.

In exchange, the city has agreed to extend the 12-inch storm sewer line recently installed at Trader’s Alley to the building to prevent water from puddling at the east corner of Spring Street near an ADA-accessible ramp.

The storm sewer line extension is estimated to cost $10,000.

Hinton told council that during a meeting earlier that day, representatives from Thrasher Engineering, Danhill Construction and city architect Bryson VanNostrand had discussed the depth of the sidewalk.

“The building is going to be stepped, so the design for the sidewalk was very challenging. [We had] to make sure the building flows with the street because we didn’t want to have the stairs at the end of the building,” Hinton said. “We wanted it to flow with the terrain.”

Hinton said VanNostrand had advised Danhill to build the sidewalk as it had been designed.

Doing so, however, would exceed what the street department had budgeted for the Spring Street rebuild.

“There seems to be some additional cost that exceeds the street department’s budget, so in discussing that this morning, the best bet was to come to city council and discuss it, because city council is the only entity that can authorize more funding to be allocated to [the street department] to cover the delta difference in the cost,” Hinton said. “That’s our request tonight – that city council take into consideration the delta difference in cost for the street that the streets department doesn’t have … so we can get this project completed.”

Buckhannon mayor David McCauley asked city public works director Jerry Arnold to weigh in on the manner.

Arnold said the city hadn’t received the measurements for the depth of the sidewalk until the week prior.

“The sidewalk Rob’s talking about – we didn’t have the measurements on that sidewalk and what the finished grade would be until last week,” he said. “We didn’t know what that finished depth was.

“The project on Spring Street has always been a typical two-inch build and overlay project. That’s what it was presented to us for budgeting purposes, and the total depth for that excavation to accommodate their sidewalk wasn’t known until last week.”

Arnold explained since a modification to the sidewalk/street rebuild was necessary, he met with Danhill Construction’s project manager Chris Dozier to discuss extending a storm sewer line in Traders Alley to catch runoff rainwater from the Innovation Center. He said the sidewalk/street project in combination with the storm sewer project would cost about $16,000 more than originally expected.

“As far as the additional cost … the total project cost to take it to Main Street, which also eliminates one of the problems we have with Main Street with puddling at one of the new ADA ramps, is about a $16,000 increase in cost for the total Spring Street paving project,” Arnold said. “Since that was taking place and we were doing the street, it would better serve the development authority that we would extend the new storm sewer that we put in on Milkman Lane as part of the Traders Alley project.”

Arnold said the city will extend the 12-inch line to Spring Street and install a drop which can be connected to the Innovation Center’s roof drains.

“That will eliminate that water on Spring Street from dumping out under the sidewalk and onto the street,” Arnold said.

McCauley explained the city would absorb the cost of the storm sewer line extension, which is expected to be about $10,000, and anything above $8,100 for the Spring Street sidewalk/street project.

He suggested Dozier of Danhill Construction and Arnold work with city attorney Tom O’Neill to craft an agreement between the city and the contractor delineating those terms.

“If we’re at $8,100, and it ends up being $10,000, the $1,900 – or whatever it ends up being – would be on the city,” McCauley told council.

“What you’re going to end up with, council, is a partially rebuilt street, two brand new sidewalks on the east and west side of South Spring, better storm sewer flow from Main Street all the way down the alley that will also take care of the increased flow coming from the new building,” the mayor added.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh made a motion to approve the city entering into the agreement, which was seconded by city recorder Randy Sanders.

However, councilman Robbie Skinner said he’d like to see the city pay for the entire amount, including the $8,100 the construction company agreed to fund.

“Not to throw a fly in the ointment – this is my opinion – I would like to see us relieve them of the $8,100 and absorb the project,” Skinner said. “Considering what the development authority is bringing to the table in contractor [business and occupation tax revenue] and what the future revenue will be from this project, I believe that we should take this on and not ask the contractor for $8,100. Being in business myself I know that’s going to come from a profit margin, and I believe in being friendly to businesses.”

McCauley said the city was paying out $10,000 to extend the storm sewer.

“There is a substantial additional cost incurrence that Jerry has discussed with Chris (Dozier) that would be our cost incurrence, not theirs. And the tradeoff is to have them contribute to the street cost of $8,100 with us picking up more than $8,100,” he said.

“If that’s agreed upon and they’re fine with it, I’ll be fine with it,” Skinner replied. “I just wanted to put it out there that those are my feelings.”

Dozier, who was at Tuesday’s meeting, verbally agreed to the terms.

“You guys have been great to work with,” he told city officials.

Danhill plans to begin construction on the sidewalk Monday, July 8.

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