Mayor’s vote breaks water tower bid tie

Cameo building sent back to board
Reporter Editor

Saying “we need to get moving on this,” Mayor Larry Jones cast the tie-breaking vote Monday to approve a bid to start a new half-million-gallon water tower project off Allday Street in northwest Rockdale.

The vote had split 2-2, with one abstention and one council member absent.

Council members couldn’t come to a firm consensus after bids came in over budget and City Manager Kelvin Knauf scrambled to find funds for the project.

Also during the combination workshop- called meeting, the council decided to re-start the hearing process for the Cameo building, which is viewed as the keystone to dealing with last summer’s wall collapse downtown.

WATER TOWER—Two bids were received for the water tower, but the low bidder, Landmark Structures of Fort Worth, submitted a base bid of $2.208 million— with options, $2.390 million— termed an unpleasant surprise by Knauf and representatives of Freese and Nichols, consulting engineers on the project.

The council discussed a possible re-bid but were advised, with recovering economic conditions, firms probably wouldn’t have an incentive to lower their bids.

“If we don’t do something now, it’s going to be worse later,” Jones said. “We need this water tower for fire protection.”

Council member Joyce Dalley expressed reservations over Freese and Nichols’ handling of the bid. She said $100,000 had to be added to the cost because protection for nearby homes from sand blasting wasn’t part of the original package.

“Well, ‘duh,’ shouldn’t that have been (originally) included?” she asked.

Knauf agreed that the project will be on a “tight site” and that some disruption for Allday Street residents near the tower will have to be addressed.

“We will have a neighborhood meeting for the Allday Street residents,” Knauf said.

Knauf presented a spreadsheet juggling funds in several areas he said would enable the city to meet Landmark’s low bid.

Those funds would be pulled from 2006, 2011 and 2012 certificates of obligation, plus a contingency fund.

Jones called the question and the council split with Toby Johnson and Doug Calame voting in favor while Dalley and Colby Fisher voted against.

Willie Phillips abstained and Melody Dawson was not present. Jones broke the tie. Rockdale mayors only vote in tie situations.

The project is expected to start in 30 to 45 days and take a year to complete.

CAMEO—After a discussion touching on sometimes confusing legal issues, the council set aside the Building Standards Commission’s original “secure and demolish” order on the Cameo building, allowing the process to start again before the commission.

On April 8, the council had discussed the matter with Gloria Thrasher, owner of the damaged building, and had expressed an interest in obtaining a structural engineer’s opinion on how the demolition would affect adjacent buildings, also damaged in last summer’s wall collapse.

In March the building’s owners told The Reporter they had been given the go-ahead from a structural engineer to proceed with renovation of the structure, instead of demolishing it.

But that engineer’s evidence could not be presented before the council April 8 because it wasn‘t part of the evidence presented at the original Building Standards Commission hearing.

‘ SECURE’—Thrasher said the building has been secured by locking the front door and installing screws at the back door to prevent entry.

Calame questioned if that met the commission’s definition of “secure.” The original order gave the owner 14 days to secure the building.

He asked if the council could amend the order on the table to include additional securing such as braces to the facade.

Jones said that would constitute a separate ordinance, different from the one which was now before them for second-reading action.

The motion, to set aside the commission’s original order and send the matter back before them for another hearing and action, passed 4-1 with Dalley voting against.

In other business, the council:

• Held a workshop on automatic water meter reading systems.

• Gave second reading approval to the Building Standard Commission’s order to demolish a damaged structure at 1304 East Cameron.

• Named Joan Ratlif f, Kit Worley, Michelle Morgan, Sharon Cloud, Kara Clore and Leanna Applegate to the new Tourism Committee.

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