Council approves community project funding

St. Marys Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Coordinator Tina Gradizzi explained three projects during Monday's city council meeting, including the demolition of a city building and grant submissions for the D.A.R.E. program and Elk Creek Park to the Stackpole Hall Foundation.At the meeting, council approved a bid for the demolition of the former Howell Building located on the corner of North St. Marys and Center streets. A total of five bid packages were picked up, with two official bids received.The winning bid was awarded to Earthmovers Unlimited Inc. of Kylertown for $23,419, a price significantly less than anticipated. Gradizzi confirmed the contract is registered with the state Attorney General's office and is up-to-date and not listed on the contractor debarment list. Also bidding was Bucktail Excavators of St. Marys with a bid of $55,788. Bids were opened and read on Oct. 12. Gradizzi explained the city had originally budgeted $50,000 for the project through its CBDG allocation; however, at the October Council meeting, it was approved to modify that allocation to $80,000 in order to cover the anticipated demolition costs.Now, since the bid is less than the budgeted amount, no additional funds are required, she said. The total project encompasses the demolition, removal of debris and placement of a gravel surface. It is estimated to take approximately three weeks to complete depending on the weather. During a pre-bid meeting on Oct. 6, demolition details and a timeline to complete the project were discussed. According to Gradizzi, some contractors were behind schedule on other projects due to the recent weather, which she said may have explained why so few contractors submitted bids with varying price differences. Contractors were also taken on a site visit to the location. City Engineer Tim Brennen said due to the building's current condition and time of the year, he believes the project should not be delayed and that demolition should begin as soon as possible.The city purchased the building for $50 plus affiliated costs of $140 from the county's depository. A portion of the insurance money for the building was used to pay to board up the structure.Councilman Dick Dornish noted the building has been a thorn in the city's side for years. He inquired about the timing of the project as to why demolition is starting so late in the season.Gradizzi answered that litigation was involved regarding federal and state liens placed on the property until recently. In addition, council gave approval for Gradizzi to submit a program grant requests to the Stackpole Hall Foundation for the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse and Resistance Education) Program in the amount of $7,250, which would be used to send three D.A.R.E. officers - consisting of local St. Marys City Police officers - to the program's training courses.