Downtown projects move forward; airport work gets closer look

ALBANY — One contractor showed up to get additional information at a prebid conference held Thursday to move the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority’s downtown canoe/kayak launch project forward.

ADICA President and Downtown Manager Aaron Blair said Thursday afternoon he wants to start the project, which will see three canoe/kayak launches built adjacent to the downtown Riverfront Park, now that the water level of the Flint River is down.

“We need to get this project under construction while the river is down and the weather is cooperating,” Blair said. “I’d like to see this project started by mid-Novemeber.

“We had one contractor (LRA Constructors) ask for information at the prebid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the only ones to bid on the project. It is a specialized project, which will limit the total number of bids, but we think we’ll see other companies get involved before bids close toward the end of October.”

The project was one of several discussed by the ADICA board at its monthly meeting Wednesday. Blair told the board work should be finished by today on the extensive Pine Avenue streetscape project, that installation of streetlights in the Old Northside neighborhood would start next week, and that trash cans, bike racks, benches and bumper posts are set to be installed at various locations downtown.

The board voted to approve a $31,719.81 bid for three bike racks, 16 trash cans, 14 benches and eight steel bumper posts. City Attorney Nathan Davis, as he has done periodically while attending ADICA meetings, confirmed that all ADICA purchases had been approved by City Manager James Taylor’s office.

“The city’s Finance department OKs all of our expenditures,” Blair said. “I run (all ADICA projects) by the city manager’s office at least twice a week.”

Blair also told the authority board that the Department of Community Affairs had completed its first site visit to determine if the city qualified for DCA’s Georgia Main Street/Better Hometown City program. He said the visitors liked what they saw.

“They were blown away by the changes they saw,” Blair said of the DCA committee. “I was all smiles after talking with them.”

Meanwhile, Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Director Yvette Aehle said Thursday the decision by the Albany-Dougherty County Aviation Commission to ask the LPA Group to look for further value engineering opportunities on Phase III of the airport’s ongoing construction project should not delay the start of the project.

Aehle said board member Sanford Hillsman’s comment that a friend suggested he could “find $600,000 in cuts on the project” sparked the commission to ask for a closer look at the particulars of the $3.5 million bid submitted by Reeves Construction Co.

“I think this was a case of the board wanting to make sure before the final, final, final bid on the project came in that they could take it to the City Commission and say, ‘This is the best price we could get,’” Aehle said. “The board wants a cafeteria list of areas where possible cuts could be made. Then they’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each. We could end up cutting some, or it could turn out that we’d be better off not to cut any.

“Our contractor didn’t want to start on the projects until after the first of the year, so this (closer scrutiny) is not going to put us off schedule. The only real deadline we have is Dec. 17. That’s how long this bid is good for. If we go beyond that, we’d have to rebid, and that would cause significant problems. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about a rebid.”

The Aviation Commission has planned a called meeting for Oct. 30 to look at the value engineering possibilities.