by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
CITY SAVES MONEY ON CONSTRUCTION BIDS
Hopes rose briefly for additional funding for recreational facilities in or around the new Garrison Street park earlier this year. The City of Arvada had a pleasant surprise when the bids for the reconstruction of the parks at Garrison Street were opened and they came in much lower than expected. The lowest bid was $3.3 million below the City’s budget for the work.
That’s a lot for what was budgeted to be an $8.2 million construction contract. Normally, City cost estimates come in within a few percent of what the actual bid costs will be. City engineers said that this time construction firms were bidding their work well below historic levels — and the recent recession was probably the reason. According to one City official, the contractors were offering bid item prices for each work element that haven’t been seen since the 1990’s.
That’s easily enough money left over in the construction budget to add an ice skating rink to the park — and almost enough for a community swimming pool. Council members and others were quick to ask, “Could those savings be used to fund additional recreational facilities in the rebuilt park without going over our budget?” Sadly, the answer was no, according to City finance officer, Victoria Runkle, at a March City Council study session.
She explained that the money was not ‘fungible.’ Such a use would not be legal. If, like me, you are wondering what mushrooms have to do with City budgets, Ms Runkle had a clear explanation: fungible means the opposite of ‘earmarked.’ Fungible money may be spent anywhere the City decides it should. But these $3.3 million savings are earmarked.
Much of the money for this part of the park’s reconstruction came from the stormwater runoff fees we are all assessed on our monthly water bills. Have a look at your own bimonthly water and sewer bill. The federally mandated fee usually runs about $7 on typical detached home and is based on the runoff caused by the size of your roof and driveway. Projects like flood control are what the money is earmarked for, and that is all those dollars can legitimately be spent on.
Of course those budget savings can now be used elsewhere in the City for other needed flood-control projects. That’s a good thing. But for those of us hoping the saving could be used for additional recreational facilities in the new Garrison Street park, well, we’re out of luck this time.
OPEN HOUSE CONSTRUCTION TIDBITS
Typically at an open-house meeting you only hear bits and pieces of conversations going on around you. Shelley Cook’s recent open-house meeting at City Hall was attended by at least 75 people and it is was interesting to listen in on the conversations about the reconstruction of the Garrison Street park. Here’s what I was able to pick up:
Garrison Street is now scheduled to be closed (at Ralston Creek) on Thursday afternoon. It’s still possible that schedule could slip a day or two depending upon the contractor’s needs. (The variable message sign on Garrison now says there will be a Friday closing.) The diversion of Ralston Creek into its temporary channel is expected to occur about the same time. The reopening of Garrison Street should happen sometime in January or February of 2013.
Will Carr Street be closed also? No, the ROAD CLOSED AHEAD sign on Carr was put up by mistake and has since been covered and will be removed. The only road closure planned is for Garrison Street.
When will the old ice rink be taken down? Starting in a week or two. But people may not notice at first since the initial work will start from the inside of the building and will work its way out. The City expects that 90% of materials in the building (and on the project) will be recycled.
Several people have asked me about asbestos on the project sites, so I asked project engineer Mark Floyd what had been found as I was looking through a set of project plans on display at the open house. He said that several site evaluations had been done, but the only real contamination was a small area at the old Santiago’s (now removed) and in the old ice skating rink. The final cleanup at the ice rink was completed last week and the structure is ready to be taken down.
That’s none too soon. Apparently, there was a recent break-in to steal copper pipe from the building. Hopefully, the thieves didn’t end up taking anything more than copper with them.
Mr Floyd said the most surprising place asbestos was found was in the tennis court paving. In the 1960’s and 1970’s asbestos was used in many construction materials.
Why was the construction fencing recently taken down along Ralston Road? It’s so the sidewalk there can be broken up and removed. The orange fencing will be reset right next to the remaining curb after that work is finished. Signs have been placed on Ralston Road to the east encourage pedestrians to cross over to the south side before reaching the construction site. Hopefully pedestrians will do that at Estes Street or farther east where there is good sight distance in both directions and not try to walk in the road to get to Garrison.
The southeast entry to the rebuilt park from the northside sidewalk near Everett Street on Ralston Road is still being designed, according to City parks manager, Mike Lee. That design and construction will be a separate follow-on project from the one going on now to excavate the dirt from the park and to put in a bridge.
What happened to the old pavilion in the park? The contract called for the structure to be removed and disposed of. The cost of relocating it to a new site in the City would have been more than the cost of simply building a new structure. However, the contractor saw it differently and elected to relocate that vintage structure off the site at his own (and considerable) expense. Rumor has it that the old pavilion will soon enjoy a new life on private property somewhere in Montana. That’s good to hear. If you are like me, you probably have a few nice memories of high school graduation parties and other celebrations being held there. It’s nice to know that this venerable structure will have a new life, even if it is in another state.
As far as we can tell, no one at the open house asked if the City was planning to restock the crawdads in Ralston Creek after construction. The once-thriving muskrat population in the creek probably won’t be missed by many, but I always enjoyed watching their comings and goings in early summer evenings.
DENVER POST ARTICLE ON PARKS
Speaking of crawdads, if you get a chance, have a look at recent (June 5th) Denver Post article on value of parks by John Moore. Several Arvada parks are mentioned. Here’s an excerpt on the bit about the Garrison Street park: “Over time, we long-timers who grew up searching for crawdads in Ralston Creek have watched the ice-skating rink and the swimming pool close down. Now the picnic pavilion and playground have been bulldozed. And soon, the tennis courts and what remains of the indoor rec center will be leveled. . . . the place looks like an arboreal graveyard.”
Mr Moore goes on to describe his optimism for Memorial Park. If you don’t subscribe to the Post, you can still read the full article online at the link below. Thanks to resident Mary Thielen for this tip.
NEW CITY APPOINTMENTS
The City of Arvada recently announced the promotion of Michele Hovet as its new Deputy City Manager. City Manager Mark Deven will soon be dividing responsibility for City affairs between his two deputies — Ms Hovet and long-time Deputy Manager Bill Ray. Michele Hovet currently manages information services for the City and will take on her new job later this month. She was selected from over 200 applicants for the position.
Michele Hovet has been with the City for 17 years and has several performance awards to her credit. You can read more about her at the link below.
A couple of months ago we reported that Arvada was about to hire a new public relations officer for the City. That appointment was made last month when Wendy Forbes took on the position. As expected, she comes to the City with an extensive background in providing public information. That experience includes nearly ten years with the North Metro Fire Rescue District. If you have some exciting information to share with the City, Ms Forbes can be reached at 720-898-7057 or via email at email@example.com . You can also read more about her at the link below.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
You should be able read John Moore’s full article on metro-area parks by clicking on
And, you can read a recent Denver Post article about Wendy Forbes’ appointment by clicking on this link:
The City of Arvada’s press release for the appointment of Michele Hovet as City manager can be read here:
Not forgetting the other important ‘residents’ of Arvada, you can find all you want to know about crayfish (and probably a lot more) at this link:
The site includes recipes and tips for keeping crawdads in an aquarium.
And, you can learn more about the beaver-like muskrats living in the park by following this link:
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community also regularly posts information on its website at http://www.ralstoncommunity.org/ as it becomes available. Or you can friend us on Facebook. Our name is ‘Ralston Arvada.’
John Kiljan, CLRC Notes: 303-423-9875 or firstname.lastname@example.org