MOUNT VERNON — All that’s left is the digging.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis reported the bids for the Gay Street improvement project were reviewed and awarded this week. Terra Valley Excavating of Bellville had the low bid of $1,091,522.70 for the project that runs from Howard Street to Chestnut Street.
That bid was lower than the city’s estimate of $1.4 million and way below the high bid of $1.92 million.
“I felt we got an excellent bid. That was well under our engineer’s estimate,” Mavis said.
The first phase of the project will be the replacement of the water line in the west lane of the street. The city will close the west lane in two-block sections as the company works on replacing the line.
The second phase will then be tearing out the bricks, reworking the roadbed and curbing, and then asphalting the street. That phase will be done block by block in an effort to help alleviate some of the traffic problems that would have been caused by closing the entire section of street.
“We’re going to work on the detours and, as best as can be done, maintain access to residences and businesses along the road,” Mavis said.
The project is expected to begin in mid-March and the estimated completion date is Aug. 1.
Two other major projects are also getting closer to fruition. A pre-bid meeting was held this week on the Plaza Building project and the city received word last week the public works, no-interest loan was granted for the Vernonview Drive water line project.
The city will be rehabbing the walls and floors of the Plaza Building, which hosts the Mount Vernon Police Department and other offices. There’s also a major crack in the building, which will need repaired during the approximately $800,000 project.
The $250,000 public works project is waiting on an upgrade to the design from design engineer Floyd Brown of Marion and the city’s engineering department. The project was originally designed three years ago and needs upgraded before it can be bid. It’s expected to go to bid in about three or four weeks.
Mavis also reported a meeting with the pool administrator, contractor and city officials determined that construction on the proposed splash pad wait until after the summer season. The city is looking at turning the old baby pool into a splash pad, but it was determined at the meeting that there wasn’t enough time to complete the project prior to this year’s opening, so they will work on it this fall.
Also, the intake grates needed to meet the new standard and will be in place by the opening of the pool in June, Mavis said.
Mavis also met with the fish manager from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources about the fish in the lakes at Foundation Park. The ODNR completed an evaluation of the fish in the lakes and noted a concern about the number of smallmouth bass and bluegill in the two eastern lakes. Mavis said they reported most of the fish were big (the smallest being three inches long) and the food chain was not very stable. Because of the lack of smaller fish, the bigger fish were not as big as they could be.
Mavis said the bass club has dropped some Christmas trees in the lakes as habitat for the fish and the city is looking at just stocking bass and bluegills this year.
“They said for long-term fishing and to build nutrients in the water, we need to build habitats for the fish. Also, we need smaller fish so the big fish have something to eat,” he said.
The city recently was notified by the Arbor Day Foundation that it was named a Tree City USA for the 16th straight year. Mavis said that was “thanks to the good work of the Shade Tree Commission.”
Mount Vernon had to meet four standards to become a Tree City USA community: Having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
In other news:
•Mavis reported the city is using cold mix and working any day that is suitable to fix the potholes that are erupting around the city. Residents can call the pothole hotline at 393-9501 to report potholes.
•The city met with the architect on the restroom/shelter facility that will be built at Foundation Park. Because most of the park is in the floodway, the facility has to be built in a way to let water flow through the building.
•The city is looking at getting a traffic engineer from the Ohio Department of Transportation to look at the city’s plans for the east side. The Coshocton/Yauger road connector, the widening of Coshocton Avenue and the upgrade of Eastern Star, New Gambier and Upper Gilchrist roads between Gambier Road and Coshocton Road are issues Mavis wants a trained professional’s opinions on.
•Mavis reported the city and the Heritage Centre Association will work together to have a First Friday event at Memorial Park on Friday, July 3. Last year, the First Friday event and the city’s fireworks were tied together and they are working on making it happen again this year.
•City offices will be closed Monday because of Presidents Day. They will reopen on Tuesday.