Cost of greenway up over $2.5 million

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By Mike Gibson

It seems that neither cost overruns nor bad bidding nor special requests from businesses will keep a series of Kingston improvement projects from moving forward.

A Thursday work session saw Kingston City Council members place on the agenda for Tuesday’s full council meeting three items concerning three big projects — the Ladd Greenway, the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, and the sewer extension on Gallaher Road.

The proposed greenway, which has been in the works through developer Matt Caldwell at Ladd Landing for a few years now, was originally estimated to be a $2.5 million project.

The project was funded through an 80-percent grant that required 20 percent in matching funds.

To pay for the remaining 20 percent, the city and Caldwell arranged a TIF, or Tax Increment Financing deal, whereby the developer put up the 20 percent ($500,000) in the form of a loan to the city.

Then, any growth that occurred in his subdivision in the form of taxes would revert back to him for repayment. In the event of zero growth, he forgives the loan.

But now that bids have actually gone out on the project, it appears the total cost will exceed the planned expense of $2.5 million.

However, City Manager Jim Pinkerton reported that the developer has deeded the greenway land to the city, and that land has been appraised at $518,000.

So the state is allowing that $518,000 to count as a “soft match,” meaning it will count as part of Kingston’s 20 percent.

“So if the project goes over, we’re covered, Pinkerton said.

He said the low bids for the greenway is around $2.255 million from Stethen Smith Construction, but the total will exceed $2.5 million when engineering and other costs are added.

Council will consider awarding the bid on Tuesday, pending approval from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The story for the bids on expanding the wastewater plant on James Ferry Road is a stranger tale.

Runner-up bidder Heren, out of Etowah, raised a stir when winning bidder Morgan Construction out of Baker, Fla., was allegedly 30 seconds late in turning in a bid on deadline day recently.

The aim of the project is to double the capacity of the plant, which currently processes a million gallons of wastewater daily.

But there is another problem, too, said Pinkerton. The project is being funded by a $5 million grant from Tennessee Valley Authority, and even the winning bid (around $5.1) exceeds the amount of the grant.

“So any way you look at it, we’re going to have to get it back in the money,” Pinkerton said. “You’ve got two ways to go. You could sit down with the low bidder and negotiate, or you can rebid it. And with the bidders complaining, we’d just as well rebid.”

Tuesday will see council act on a motion to reject the initial round of bids and then rebid the project.

The changes to the Gallaher Road sewer extension council will consider are a far simpler matter. The project is in its second phase, and area businessman, Jon Loden of Jon Loden’s Auto Body Repair, has asked that the city ensure service for his outfit.

Tuesday, council will vote on a motion to add about 200 feet of sewer lines at a cost of about $9,000 to ensure service for Loden’s business.