Home Local Government Planning Commission approves North Whittaker Street Plan’s Phase One

Planning Commission approves North Whittaker Street Plan’s Phase One

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Major road reconstruction may be soon underway in New Buffalo.

Mike Morphey, Senior Project Engineer for Abonmarche, was present at the Planning Commission’s Special Meeting Monday, Dec. 20, to get the Commissoners’ approval to bid the Phase One portion of the North Whittaker Street project, which includes the reconstruction of Barton and Mechanic streets.

Morphey said that a draft of the bid package for Phase One had been submitted and was under final review. Construction for Phase One was scheduled to begin in Spring 2017 and would be completed by Memorial Day, with some “off-street portions” possibly being completed after Memorial Day. Regarding the bid phase, Morphey said advertising was scheduled to begin Dec. 22, and that they’d be open to bid beginning Jan. 27. He added that they were looking to review bids beginning Feb. 1-10.

Regarding Phase Two of the project, Morphey said that construction was set to commence in Fall 2017 for a Spring 2018 completion date. Phase One, he added, would serve as being a “set up” for Phase Two.

Morphey said there were four objectives for Phase One: to improve the infrastructure of Barton and Mechanic streets, such as making replacements where needed in the storm and sanitary sewers, replacing aging mains and “looping” the two streets and ensuring a new water main and hydrant replacement on Barton Street; to improve the parking on both streets, such as making parking areas more visible to visitors coming to New Buffalo and creating additional parking; reconstructing the roadways and sidewalks along Barton and Mechanic streets and setting the stage for Phase Two.

Morphey said they did a “base bid” as well as a couple “alternate bids.” Morphey explained that the alternate bids were “alternate items” in their plans, as they first wanted to see the prices and how they tied into the project.

“They’re sort of an add-on option,” he said, adding that they were “ultimately in the plan.”

Morphey said they planned on having 72 potential new parking spaces, with 44 spaces included in the base bid and 28 included in the alternate bids. Base bid parking spaces included 18 potential perpendicular parking spaces at the end of Thompson Street. Moving to the right at the end of Thompson Street, Morphey said there was a short dead end where some sanitary work was needed, and that they could create five more spaces there. Morphey also pointed to an area along Mechanic Street to the east of Townsend Street that was at the edge of the street where they could fit 21 spaces perpendicular to the roadway. Morphey said the area was currently utilized for parking during the summer months; however, it wasn’t signed or paved.

Alternate potential parking spaces include an area located near the end of Barton Street on the right side, which currently contains public spaces used for condominium residents. On the left side, Morphey said, there’s an extra right of way that’s currently not being used, and he said they can fit nine spaces there. Alternate Two included a City-owned lot located at Barton and Mechanic streets which can fit 19 spaces, including three on street parking spaces on the Mechanic side and 16 spaces in the actual lot.

Morphey said that a draft of the bid package for Phase One had been submitted and was under final review. Construction for Phase One was scheduled to begin in Spring 2017 and would be completed by Memorial Day, with some “off-street portions” possibly being completed after Memorial Day. Regarding the bid phase, Morphey said advertising was scheduled to begin Dec. 22, and that they’d be open to bid beginning Jan. 27. He added that they were looking to review bids beginning Feb. 1-10.

Also included in Phase One was the planting and removal of trees. Since their last meeting with the Commission, Morphey said they had minimized the removal of trees down to eight, with seven being on Barton Street. Morphey said they planned on planting nine trees along Mechanic and Barton streets, including four Sunset Red Maples, one Skyline Honeylocust, two Red Oaks and two Autumn Brilliance Amellanchiers.

Commissioner Ralph Hullett expressed his concern over what he perceived to be uncertainties over aspects of the project, claiming that he counted a list of items throughout the presentation that Morphey seemed to be saying they “may or may not do.” Morphey confirmed that everything Hullett saw in the presentation was going to get accomplished. He said they were bidding the whole project, and that the base bid included everything that was talked about, excluding alternate options at the end of Barton Street and the Barton and Mechanic street parking lot.

Hullett, along with Ray Kirkus, also expressed his concern that the Planning Commission had not been that involved with the project, and that he just got the information on the Plan that day. Kirkus added that he felt that, until they were “actually needed” for the project in “this point in time,” the Commission was excluded from it.

Paul Billingslea pointed out that it was a project that’s been talked about for 13 years and it was a “good plan” and time to move forward. In response to Hullett saying he just received the information, Sharyn O’Mara pointed out that they were present at the Dec. 5 meeting, which was when Abonmarche first presented it to them.

“We need to look at what the needs of our community are,” she said about moving the project to the next phase.

Chair Pat Fisher acknowledged that Kirkus and Hullett were correct with regards to the Commission often being informed of decisions at the last minute; however, he said they needed to approve this plan to “move forward.”

The Commission approved the proposal as presented in order to go to the next phase of advertising and bids, and to include the Planning Commission staff report on the North Whittaker Redevelopment Phase One review and the Abonmarche project description maps provided for their review. Billingslea, O’Mara, Fisher and Kristen D’Amico voted in favor of the proposal, with Hullett and Kirkus being the two dissenting votes.