Golf course irrigation bids come in lower than expected

February 23, 2017 GMT

LA PORTE — Installing a new irrigation system at Beechwood Golf Course will cost less than anticipated, providing the city with additional funds from the anticipated sale of municipal bonds for other economic development projects.

Bids were submitted on the irrigation project itself and on the overhaul of two wells that provide the water.

Members of the La Porte Redevelopment Commission agreed with the city engineer’s recommendation, awarding a contract to Commercial Irrigation and Turf of East Peoria, Illinois. At $556,681, this was the lowest of five bids on the irrigation portion of the project.

The commission agreed to further examine three bids on the well portion of the project and to select one at its next meeting in March. Bids on this portion of the project ranged from $67,977 to $76,640.

City Engineer Nick Minich said a short delay on selecting a bid on the wells would not set back the overall project.

“We got into some very competitive pricing,” Minich told the commission. “I’m pleased with the results.”

Jason Semler, a partner with consulting firm H.J. Umbaugh and Associates, said the city could expect to close on the bond by the end of March. Planners are hoping to wrap up construction on the golf course project in May.

With bid openings out of the way and the adoption of resolutions regarding the $2 million bond, members of the commission and others talked about what should be done with any additional funds. Plans for the bond initially included spending about $1 million for the irrigation system and another $650,000 for a city fire truck. Additional money, if any, was to be earmarked for other economic development projects.

Another notion was to use any leftover funds to pay down the principal on the bond and perhaps reduce the burden on the taxpayers. However, Semler said, such a move might affect the terms of the bond. He also said any decisions about how to spend leftover funds should be made within three years.

Don Berchem, president of the Redevelopment Commission, said the city has a long list of economic development projects that far exceeds available funding. Any one of them would help bring jobs and investment to the city, which is the commission’s mission and the purpose of the bond, he said.

Minich, the city engineer, said a limited sewer and storm water separation project would allow several business to expand, for example. A wellhead protection project north of Lincoln Way would help ensure industrial growth in that area. Even a planned second phase of the New Porte Landing development might benefit from additional funds.

“If we can bring in another 1,000 jobs, absolutely we’d like to do that,” Berchem said.

City Councilman Tim Stabosz asked the commission for clarification on who would decide how to spend any additional funds. City Attorney Rebecca Meyer McCuaig said that responsibility falls to the Redevelopment Commission, but Berchem was quick to add: “By all means, if the city council has ideas, we’d like to hear them.”