2009-03-14 / News

Low bidder on track to get water contract

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE - There's nothing like paperwork. Monday night, Buckeye Lake Village Council took several more steps toward preparing for construction of a village-wide public water distribution system and a water tower. Actual construction should begin late spring, but there are numerous legal and "housekeeping" issues that need to be done before work can begin.

No contract is signed, but Mayor Frank Foster said he'd already contacted the Stillion Brothers Excavating Company, the lowest bidder to build the distribution system; the company's bid was a little more than $3.31 million. Foster said engineers from M•E Companies - the engineering firm designing the distribution system - recommended the lowest bidder after reviewing the company's record. He said Stillion Brothers could begin construction after May 1, when the company completes another project. If Stillion Brothers is awarded the contract, Foster said construction would likely begin on opposite ends of the village and two crews of roughly nine people each would work toward the center.

Director of Development Valerie Hans said she feels "100 percent comfortable" with Stillion Brothers after meeting with them. She said they were able to offer such a low bid because they secured a good deal on the project's piping. Locally, the company worked with the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District on a project along US 40. Stillion Brothers, which specializes in water and sewer projects, has specialized equipment to locate underground utility lines, which Stillion Brothers representatives realize will be a problem on Buckeye Lake's narrow streets. "They know what to expect," said Hans. She expects the village will contract with Stillion Brothers early May.

Foster said M•E Companies engineers recommended not accepting the lowest bid for the water tower, Landmark Construction, because the company's proposal didn't meet the project's specifications. Instead, the engineers recommended the village hire the only other bidder, Gateway Construction, which recently completed a tower near Pataskala at the Etna Corporate Park. Its design met specifications. Landmark's bid was $1,195,100 and Gateway's was $1,315,100.

Council passed an ordinance to allow BBC&M Engineering, Inc. to conduct soil boring tests at the water tower site. The site was already tested, but Foster said the old test wasn't as detailed as BBC&M's will be. He anticipates the $4,500 BBC&M test will show that the soil at the site is denser than reported in the previous test. If so, he said the village could save roughly $75,000 on the water tower because denser soil would require less concrete and digging at the tower's base.

Council also adopted an ordinance to approve a loan agreement with the Ohio Water Development Authority for a $3 million loan at one percent interest. Foster said approval was necessary to "get the ball rolling."

Council also approved an Ohio EPA-required ordinance that assures the agency that the village is ready to distribute money to the appropriate contractors when funding is available.

Hans said the village will pay Millersport its near $300,000 tap fee later this month, so Millersport can begin construction on the main line that will supply the Village of Buckeye Lake with water from Millersport's water system. Under the contract with Millersport, the entire project must be completed within 18 months of Millersport receiving the money. The countdown begins immediately when Millersport receives the tap fee.

Foster said the following organizations are helping to fund the Buckeye Lake water project: the Ohio Water Development Authority is providing $3 million at 1 percent interest; the Ohio Public Works Commission is providing a $300,000 loan at zero percent interest and a $300,000 grant; a Community Development Block Grant for $500,000; Ohio EPA is providing $153,000 principle forgiveness and a $154,000 loan at zero percent interest; and the balance will be from the Ohio EPA in a combination of loans and principle forgiveness. Foster said for budgeting purposes the village is using the worst case scenario of two percent interest.

However, between the potential for some federal stimulus money and other funding options the village is pursuing Foster expects better rates with some grant money and principle forgiveness.

In other council news:

• Resident Judy Pyle was appointed to the Buckeye Lake Planning Commission. "That gives us a full compliment," said Council President Charlene Hayden.

• Foster said Buckeye Power Sales is offering a trade agreement with the village whereby the village trades in its grass mower each year plus $1,000 and receives a brand new mower. Foster believes it's a good deal because the mower generally needs more than $1,000 of repairs each year.

• Hayden asked council members and the public to send letters to the local media in support of keeping the Buckeye Lake Library open. The Licking County Library system proposed shutting down the Buckeye Lake Library as one option to help trim the library system's budget.

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