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City Council awards $17 million WRRF contract to Dubuque construction company

By Kelly Terpstra,

The final plans were approved and the contract was awarded to build a new $17 million water resource recovery facility (WRRF) in Charles City at a regular council meeting on Monday.

The only thing left to do now is sign on the dotted line.

Charles City Administrator Steve Diers said the finalized contract will be voted on by the City Council at the Sept. 3 regular meeting.

“I think we’ll be at a point where we’re ready to approve the contract,” he said.

The City Council voted unanimously to award Portzen Construction the $18 million project to replace the 52-year-old wastewater treatment plant. The low bid from the construction company out of Dubuque came in $575,000 under the city’s working estimated cost to build the new activated sludge plant.

“They are doing all the HVAC and plumbing. So a large portion of the work is being done in-house rather than by subcontractors for them. I think that maybe helped them under-bid,” said Lance Aldrich of Fox Engineering, who did the design work on the WRRF.

The bid also includes the replacement of the Chautauqua lift station, which was expected to be a $300,000 stand-alone project. The lift station is undersized and is constantly pumping, according to Diers. The lift station will be renamed the Gilbert Street lift station upon completion.

“This will help improve that bottleneck. Wrapping it up with this proved to be a nice value effort on our part,” Diers said.

Aldrich said Portzen is hoping to start work this fall on construction of the WRRF.

No action was taken with the draft agreement between the city and the Charles City Area Development Corp. regarding the Avenue of the Saints Development Park certified site.

The development and grant agreement lays out the ground rules for the city to grant up to $2.156 million to CCADC to purchase 75 acres of real estate that is in the process of being designated as a state of Iowa certified development site. The industrial park is located on South Grand Avenue and the CCADC will maintain, market and attempt to sell the property.

Tim Fox, director of the Charles City Area Development Corp., took exception to specific wording of part of the agreement that stipulates CCADC shall request and receive consent from the city not less than 60 days prior to the sale of the property.

“We have grave concerns,” he said about that requirement. “It kind of violates the precept that we’ve had for many years, which is your project is confidential until it comes before a public deliberative body,” said Fox. “That’s served us very well in the past and we have a reputation for confidentiality and if you lose it once, you never get it back.”

Diers said he didn’t have a problem with making some changes to how that portion of the agreement reads.

“It reads that the city would have to have any final last say on disposable property. How do you keep businesses that want to come and investigate potential buying, how do you keep those confidential?” said Diers. “I think what this is attended to achieve, so when all that work is done, that the city is notified who it is. There’s apparently some additional work here we should look at to address those concerns.”

In advance of that potential sale to an interested buyer, the council approved the rezoning of that site from general highway business district (B-4) and urban-agricultural district (UA) to M-2 (general manufacturing district).

The agreement states that CCADC would not be able to purchase the property before Dec. 1, 2019.

The certified site agreement will again be discussed at the upcoming council workshop on Monday, Aug. 26.

Other action taken at the meeting is as follows:

– The council approved the federal aid agreement between the city and the Iowa Department of Transportation to receive $329,000 of TAP (Transportation Alternatives Funding) funding to help build the $1.2 million new Charley Western Trail Bridge.

– A quote of almost $8,000 to do Housing Department improvement work on retaining walls at Morningside Apartments was approved. The council also gave the go-ahead to pay MidAmerican Energy for $17,000 in labor costs as a part of the electrical upgrade at South Cedar Terrace.

– After an inquiry about the placement of a distillery in Charles City, the council approved Resolution No. 113-19 to direct the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider the permitted and special uses for distilling and bottling beverages in an M-1 (light manufacturing district).

– Four dwellings in the 400 block of N. Grand Avenue were approved to be rezoned from B-1 (local business district) to R-2 (general residence district).

– A small area at the west end of Court Street (1100 block and south half of 1200 block) was recommended to be rezoned by P&Z from R-1 (single family residence district) to R-2.

– A facade grant for $1,000 to install metal work atop the roofline at 205 N. Main Street was approved.