Council action possible this week
By Don Nelson
The Town of Twisp this week anticipated finalizing a loan application for up a $1.5 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program to cover a construction funding gap for the new civic building and regional communications center.
The Town Council scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday (April 20), after the Methow Valley News went to press, to formalize the loan, pending receival of a commitment letter from the USDA.
The federal agency has been processing the necessary paperwork since the council agreed at its March 30 meeting to award a construction contract for the new building, contingent on approval of the USDA loan. The council accepted a bid by Leone & Keeble of Spokane to construct the new building on the same site as the existing town hall, which will be demolished.
The USDA loan will augment the approximately $3 million the town already has available for the building’s construction.
Construction bids, which were opened on Feb. 24, came in higher than the projected cost of about $2.835 million. The lowest bid of the three submitted was $3.587 million by Leone & Keeble. Other bids ranged up to $4.497 million.
The construction contract with Leone & Keeble, as approved by the council, comes to $3,518,400. Sales tax, contingency funds, management and other related costs bring the total projected cost to $4,620,122.
The town’s total available funding comes to $3,120,122, leaving the $1.5 million gap. Available funds include several state capital budget appropriations, a state Department of Commerce community development block grant, and town reserve funds that have accumulated toward the project.
A pre-construction meeting with the contractor was scheduled for last week.
Other public works projects were on the council’s agenda last week as well.
Public Works Director Andrew Denham said that because of conflicting surveys, a project to build new sidewalks along Highway 20 north of the Twisp River bridge may be delayed. A Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) survey for the project was completed in 2003, Denham said, but an apparent inaccuracy was discovered last year by the contractor for a major water system project in the same area. “It affects where we place things,” Denham said. “This issue has major impacts to the design, cost and timing of our project.”
Denham said the discrepancy is being addressed with WSDOT, but may not be cleared up in time for the sidewalk project to be completed this construction season.
West Twisp Avenue
Denham reported that the projected costs for the water system upgrade portion of a major public works project on West Twisp Avenue are about $250,000 over the original estimate. Funding for the project is provided by a combination of grants and loans from the USDA.
Denham recommended that the town apply for additional funding to make sure the water improvements are completed this year in conjunction with sewer and street projects that are fully funded. It’s critical to get the project out to bid this week, Denham said. Any “subsequent funding” would also be a loan/grant combination, he said.
Canyon Street crossing
A pre-construction meeting for the Canyon Street crossing project was scheduled for last week, Denham said. The project will include new, more-visible crosswalks and a bus stop at the intersection of Canyon Street and Highway 20 in Twisp, across from the Hank’s Harvest Foods shopping area, funded by a $409,000 federal transportation grant. TranGO, Okanogan County’s bus service, will contribute $50,000 to the project.
The project will improve safety for pedestrians crossing Highway 20 from the shopping area to the residential neighborhood to the north. Currently, there is a marked crosswalk with “minimal pedestrian safety features,” according to the funding application for the project.
That crosswalk will be replaced with enhanced crosswalks using stamped concrete that cross Highway 20 and Canyon Street. A bus stop with an accessible boarding area and a shelter, with improved signage and lighting, will be built on the north side of the street across from the shopping area.
The project also includes construction of a sidewalk near the bus stop and construction of planted “refuge islands” on Highway 20, providing protected spaces in the center of the street for pedestrians and cyclists.
A pre-construction meeting was scheduled for last week for the sports complex project near the Twisp Municipal Airport, with an anticipated start date of the first or second week of May, Denham said.
The town recently accepted a bid by Northwest Turf Solutions Inc. of Moses Lake to build the first phase of the project, which is to include a soccer field and baseball/softball fields.
The facility is being developed in conjunction with the Methow Valley School District, which is contributing $65,000 toward the project’s cost. Total funding available for the project is $733,900, including a state Recreation and Conservation Office grant of $620,000.