Council member has questions on projects

MARSHALL – A planned amateur sports complex and expansions at the Marshall Emergency Response and Industrial Training (MERIT) Center were once again in the spotlight Tuesday at the Marshall City Council’s regular meeting. Council members approved the sale of about $17.2 million in bonds to go toward construction of the two projects and rejected incomplete bids for construction of softball fields as part of the sports complex.

However, both items of business drew questions and financial concerns from council member Glenn Bayerkohler.

Assistant City Engineer Shane Waterman said the city didn’t get a good showing of bidders for Phase 1 of construction for the softball fields. That phase included groundwork and foundations for the softball fields.

“We did not get complete bid packages filled out,” Waterman said. He said Bossardt Corporation, the city’s construction manager for the project, recommended rejecting the bids and rebidding for the project on June 19. Having a longer bid window might help the process, he said.

In discussion of the bids, Bayerkohler said he was concerned about the possibility of construction costs for the sports complex coming in higher than expected. He asked if there were parts of the complex that could be cut back if funding fell short.

“I believe the ice arena is a higher priority than the ball fields,” Bayerkohler said.

Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said the final designs and construction plans for the sports complex are still taking shape. It wasn’t yet possible to give the council exact cost estimates, he said.

The council voted unanimously to reject the current group of bids. However, council members split over whether to rebid the project. The motion to rebid passed 4-3, with council members Bayerkohler, Jennie Hulsizer and Mike Boedigheimer voting against it.

Bayerkohler voiced similar funding concerns for the sports complex and MERIT Center during discussion of the 2014 city bonding process. Financial consulting group Springsted recommended the sale of about $17.2 million in general obligation sales tax bonds for construction of the two projects.

Boedigheimer said the city Ways and Means Committee had met twice to discuss the bond issue but it was unable to reach a recommendation for the council on the matter.

Bayerkohler said he was concerned about changing cost and revenue estimates for the projects. “It makes me wonder how much you can rely on projected budgets,” and whether it was wise to move forward on sale of the bonds, he said.

After more discussion, council members voted 5-2 in favor of approving the bonds, with Bayerkohler and Hulsizer voting against.

Council members also voted Tuesday to approve the sale of $3.46 million in general obligation bonds for six city street and utility projects.

In other business Tuesday night, council members approved a request to temporarily close Fairview Street later this week for an event at Reinhart Food Service. Waterman said Marshall received a request to close the street between the railroad tracks and the west edge of the Reinhart Food Service property on Saturday. The street closing would allow room for a company truck rodeo, including driving events for Reinhart employees and other activities.

“The idea is basically to showcase our transportation,” said Nick Popovich of Reinhart.

Marshall Director of Public Safety Rob Yant said his only concern about the request was that closing Fairview Street might give the wrong impression, as he and Marshall City Attorney Dennis Simpson work to address the problem of railroad trains blocking traffic on the street.

“It is a little different. This (closure request) is planned and routed,” Yant said, but “It is a little bit of a mixed message.” However, there really aren’t good options for relocating the truck rodeo, Yant said.

“It is a different issue. This is actually a request” to close the road, said Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the request to temporarily close the street. Bayerkohler cast the vote against.