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Lack of bids on street work remains a concern for Hudson City Council

The approval of a street maintenance project and the purchase of an emergency power generator for City Hall were two of the major actions taken by the Hudson City Council on Monday night.

After a brief discussion about there being just one bid for the street project, the council decided to nonetheless award the $109,049 contract to Fahrner Asphalt Sealers of Plover, Wis.

The breakdown of the project is:

--$6,732 worth of crack-sealing on Jodi Circle, Ruby Road, White Pine Road and Hunter Hill Road (from Wisconsin Street of Grandview Drive);

--$21,897 worth of flex-patching on St. Croix Street (from First to 11th streets) and the dike road; and

--$80,420 worth of crack-sealing and flex-patching on Vine Street, Seventh Street and Stageline Road.

Alderperson Kurt TeWinkel asked if it would be possible to crack-seal just first set of streets this year and wait until next year to re-bid the rest of the project.

Like at the previous council meeting when a $1.51 million street resurfacing project was approved, TeWinkel was concerned about there being just one bid for the work.

“I have a feeling if it went out earlier next year we would have more bids,” he said.

But City Administrator Devin Willi said the bid submitted by Fahrner Asphalt couldn’t be broken apart, and the council would have to either approve or reject the bid for all of the work.

The council members, including TeWinkel, were reluctant to postpone the needed crack-filling.

Public Works and Parks Director Tom Zeuli said the condition of the streets would worsen if the work was delayed over another winter.

Mayor Alan Burchill said one of the reasons for the lack of bids is that Fahrner Asphalt has acquired a former competitor that used to seek Hudson’s street maintenance work.

Zeuli said Minnesota companies are reluctant to come into Wisconsin for some reason, and southern Wisconsin companies won’t go farther north than Eau Claire.

Alderperson Randy Morrissette II said the lateness in the season contributed to the lack of bids. The council was partly to blame for that, he said, because it didn’t solicit bids until it decided how much it would bond for capital projects.

The council did delay the chip-sealing of certain city streets until next spring on the recommendation of Zeuli and consulting engineer Karen Erickson of Foth Infrastructure and Environment.

Power generator

The city received three bids on providing an emergency power generator for City Hall. The council accepted the low bid of $57,580 from B & B Electric.

The natural gas generator will replace a 1975 Army surplus mobile trailer unit that is too old to serve city hall.

City Hall shut down on a couple of occasions this summer when windstorms knocked out power to the building.

Zeuli said the new generator will be placed on the north side of City Hall and come on automatically when there is a power failure. The price included the cost of installation and a concrete pad for the generator to sit on.

Other action

In other business, the council:

--Approved the purchase of an aluminum dock system to replace a Lakefront Park boat launch dock that was damaged beyond repair in the June 21 windstorms. Brainerd Lakes Dock & Lift of Nisswa, Minn., submitted the lowest of three bids on providing the dock. Its bid was $19,605. The money for the dock will come from an insurance settlement.

--Authorized City Administrator Devin Willi and Public Works Director Zeuli to proceed with the recruitment process for a public works employee to replace Street Inspector Mark Loughney. Zeuli said Loughney is retiring after 29 years with the Public Works Department. He said Loughney’s last day at work will be sometime in late November.

Zeuli said a current public works employee has been training to replace Loughney, but a new employee will be needed to take that worker’s spot. The street inspector is responsible for the operation of traffic signals and street lights, maintaining street signs and keeping track of the condition of streets.

--The council also authorized hiring a replacement for parking meter attendant Lorraine Seesser, who is retiring after six years with the city. Previously, it was announced that executive secretary Jan Doonan will be retiring on Nov. 1 after 24 years with the city.

--Designated EMS Chief Kim Eby to be the contact person to work with state emergency management and Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives concerning reimbursement for damage from the June 21 storms. Willi said other city officials will also be involved as needed.

--Renewed a contract with River Valley Deer Management to conduct an archery hunt to control the city’s deer population.

--Debated at length whether further controls are needed to reduce motorist speeds at St. Croix and 11th streets. In the end, Police Chief Marty Jensen was instructed to direct more police patrolling of the intersection.

--Approved a resolution exempting the city from the county library tax for 2013, payable in 2014.

--Approved the annual Hot Air Affair celebration to be held Feb. 7-9, 2014.

--Issued temporary licenses for St. Patrick Catholic Church to sell beer and wine at its annual Fall Festival set for Sept. 20-23.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

(715) 426-1066