Marquette Council holds off on awarding contract for Edgar Street project

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The Marquette Council chose, at its March 15 meeting, to take more time to consider construction bids for the city’s Edgar Street project, which will include sanitary sewer work and development of a bike/pedestrian trail.

Four companies bid on the project, said project engineer Bart Nies, from Delta 3 Engineering, with some bids coming in as much as $42,000 to $43,000 below the estimated project cost of $302,750.

“We got some great numbers,” he told the council. “It’s a good time of year to bid.”

Mayor Larry Breuer—who said he was unable to attend the public hearing when project plans were proposed—had some concerns about the trail, though, worrying about the safety of where the trail meets Pleasant Ridge Road. He also questioned the trail’s location along the highway side of Edgar Street, rather than along the bluff, and the size of the trail, preferring a five-foot width rather than the planned eight feet. 

Running from the Depot Museum and Information Center to Pleasant Ridge, Nies said this is the first phase of a trail that may connect to future city development near the city shop. He said it was decided not to run the trail along the bluff in order to avoid falling rocks. Having the trail along the highway side, in the same area where the sanitary sewer work will take place, also means the contractor will only have to excavate once, Nies added.

“The bids are lower because [the contractor] has to excavate just once,” he noted.

Nies said the council has 90 days to approve, revise or reject the bids, but warned that significant changes constituting at least 25 percent of the project could affect the bid price. The project is anticipated to begin July 5.

“If you decide you want to do what the mayor’s suggesting, don’t expect the contractor to keep the unit prices,” he said.

The council chose to table discussion until the next meeting, with councilman John Ries stating he would like to do a walk-through of the proposed project before making a decision.

Wetlands Centre staffing

The council agreed to change Driftless Area Wetlands Centre Director Alicia Mullarkey’s position from temporary part-time to permanent part-time (20 to 25 hours per week). They also agreed that the city will post for a seasonal assistant position at the Wetlands Centre, to work 10 to 20 hours per week.

“As we move into the busy season, we need to increase hours and have more staffing,” Mullarkey said, noting that the Wetlands Centre’s regular hours will expand from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays to 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Mullarkey said events will be picking up at the Wetlands Centre, including the Friday Night Live Farmers Market at the end of May.

“It’s a benefit to the area,” said Wetlands Centre board member Scott Boylen, who attended the meeting along with other board members, of the facility. 

He said it’s also an important facility for him as a teacher at MFL MarMac, which contributed a lot of money to construct the center and takes students there for educational programming.

Boylen noted that he visited the Wetlands Institute in New Jersey last fall as part of the Russia-U.S.A. Wetlands Exchange program. As a well-established center with a larger number of staff, he said they had 13,000 visitors last year.

“We’re at 7,000 and have one part-time [staff member],” he said. “There’s a need there and potential growth there.”

New attorney

The council approved Dan Key, with the Key Law Firm in Prairie du Chien, as the new city attorney. Key replaces Jim Garrett.

In his first statement as the city’s attorney, Key addressed the issue of the guns stolen from the Mar-Mac Police Department last month, stating, “It’s been turned over to the proper authorities and we can’t discuss much about it. We’ll make public the findings once the investigation is concluded.”

Chamber funding

Funding for the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce was again discussed by the council. Ries said he spoke with chamber executive director Carolyn Gallagher and encouraged her to come to the city with any funding opportunities and if funds are needed to fill a void.

Councilwoman Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald mentioned that she also communicated with Gallagher. She said chamber funding is currently down because of the loss of hotel/motel funding from the Holiday Shores Motel in McGregor. Some free advertising sites often used by the chamber are also beginning to charge, she said, so she’s working with Gallagher to get a breakdown on where the chamber advertises.

“We don’t want to be redundant,” Ries said of spending advertising dollars. “We should do joint advertising to make the advertising dollars go farther. We can help the chamber out on that end.”

Ries said the city should remain in contact with the chamber and discuss any new information in the committee updates portion of each monthly meeting.

Donation

The council approved contributing $1,000 to the Clayton County Historic Preservation Commission for restoration of the Clayton County Courthouse clock tower.

Ellen Collins, representing the group, spoke about the project, explaining that the group was asked to begin the restoration process by the Clayton County Supervisors in 2012.

“It’s been 40 years since anything was done,” she said. “It’s the only courthouse clock tower made of wood in the state, so it’s subject to more deterioration. It’s in severe condition.”

To-date, she said $85,000 (including several grants and funding from the county) has been spent to create a master plan for the restoration, restore the clock workings, get new clock hands and new clock face lighting, replace window panes and sills and perform some painting. This year, the clock’s numerals and minute markers will be restored, she added.

Collins said $250,000 is still needed for the project, so, in addition to applying for grants and fundraising, the group is approaching all of the cities in the county requesting funds. 

Prior to Marquette’s contribution, she said four communities had given a combined $2,100 toward the project.

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