Bids for water chlorination project rejected

City council approved the rejection of two bids for the water chlorination system that came in over budget.

The lowest bid came from Minnesota Mechanical Systems in Savage, Minn., for almost $478,000 — roughly 35% higher than the construction cost estimate. Accepting the bid would have greatly overrun the city’s budget.

Per staff recommendation, the project will go back to Stantec, the city’s water consultant, to have the plans reconfigured and the city plans to seek new bids sometime this winter.

Public Works Director Nick Egger, who presented the resolution to the council, said there were two reasons he and his staff believed the bids came in much higher than expected — one reason being that the estimate was based on a preliminary amount of work, Egger said. When it came down to looking at retrofitting different parts of the system, there was more work that needed to be done than anticipated.

The other reason was competition for contractors. Around the same time that bids went out for the project, Egger said, a roughly $20 million water treatment plant project in Empire was also out for bid, which may have drawn the attention of contractors away.

Along with possible changes to the project, public works staff has discussed changing the bidding timeline, allowing contractors more time to bid and complete the project.

Council accepts a tree donation for City Hall

In a 4-2 vote, the council voted to accept the donation of an 18-foot blue spruce tree to be planted in the north lawn at City Hall, and lights to be hung on the tree during the winter season.

Mayor Mary Fasbender presented the idea of having a tree lighting ceremony during the Downtown Business Association’s Holiday Hoopla event to the council.

Discussion among councilmembers focused on how the tree lighting might legally harm the city if they weren’t careful to be inclusive. Fasbender said that she intended for the tree lighting to be a celebration of the season, not for a specific holiday.

Councilmembers Joe Balsanek and Mark Vaughan voted against the donations — both wanting to do more research and discussion on legal aspects and the process of having an event.

Consent agenda items

The Nov. 4 consent agenda included an agreement for the Hastings Civic Arena, the purchase of land from Dakota County, an application for the Dakota County Community Waste Abatement Grant Program, and the accepting of donations for the Community Halloween Party.

In the consent agenda vote, the council approved an agreement between the Hastings Civic Arena and a company called LiveBarn, which provides subscriptions of live and on-demand online streaming of youth and amateur sporting events at ice arenas.

LiveBarn will provide the arena with the necessary equipment and services at no cost. Residents will be able to subscribe to LiveBarn for a monthly fee and receive unlimited video to watch local games.

There is no timeline yet for when services would start, according to arena manager Jeff Elliot.

Council also voted to approve the purchase of two parcels of land from Dakota County after they had been forfeited to the county for non-payment of taxes.

The two parcels, which nest behind homes on King Midas Lane, provide access to the Vermillion River. The space also contains wildlife and has had little human interference.

The city plans to hold the land for recreational purposes and currently does not plan to alter the land.

The Community Waste Abatement Grant Program application was also passed by the council. The grant helps the Hastings Parks and Recreation Department get funding for the special collection events that it puts on every year, such as the spring clean-up, or last weekend’s pumpkin toss. Through the program, the city could receive a reimbursement of over $30,000 in 2020.