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Windsor votes 4-2 to proceed with town center

WINDSOR

Windsor’s Town Council voted 4-2 on Tuesday to approve a bid of $1.287 million from A.R. Chesson Construction Inc. for the renovation of the Windsor Town Center.

The company had originally bid $1.398 million last month, making it the second lowest costing proposal the town had received for the project. The lowest bidder, GTT Enterprises, which had bid $1 million flat, was disqualified after being unsuccessful in supplying the town with the required documents, Town Manager Michael Stallings explained. He added that the new, lower bid by Chesson came as a result of a meeting among him, Mayor Carita Richardson and company representatives to discuss ways in which the scope of the project could be reduced to save costs.

A complete list of everything that had been changed on the town center plans was included in the agenda packet distributed prior to the council meeting. Stallings confirmed that most of the changes were mechanical in nature. However, two changes that town residents who saw the initial architectural renderings and plans will likely notice include the elimination of the proposed art and youth activity room and one of the two art wall display cases in the lobby.

The space intended for the art/youth room will be combined with the adjacent storage room shown on the floor plans, Richardson said, but added that it could be turned back into an art/youth room in the future should additional funds become available.

The amount of savings the town was able to obtain from reducing the scope of the project amounted to $268,600, Stallings said. The $1.287 million bid figure includes a 10-percent contingency budget and 4 percent to cover construction administration costs.

The dissenting votes on the motion to proceed with the bid came from councilmen Macon Edwards and Walter Bernacki. Edwards said he felt a more specific memorandum of understanding with Isle of Wight County in regard to their plans to staff and use the facility was needed prior to the signing of any construction contract. Bernacki said that some constituents he spoke to had described the project as “putting the cart before the horse” and had told him that more restaurants and possibly hotels were needed in town before the facility could attract wedding parties and other clientele.

“I know this looks painful,” Richardson said after the vote regarding the dissent seen among council. “But I will tell you as citizens of this town, this council is so careful with your money, and they’re that way with everything, which is why we’re at the point where we’re saving money each year. It’s not easy sitting up here, but we appreciate all the homework they do because we end up with a good result.”

The council also voted 4-2 to move $500,000 from the town’s space needs fund and $300,000 from the unassigned balance of its general fund to its town center fund. Combined with the $200,000 the council has contributed to the town center since its inception, the town will now have contributed a total of $1 million in local funds to the project. Edwards and Bernacki were the two dissenting votes on this motion as well.

The center is still on track to open by the end of August or early September at the latest.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to:

  • Appropriate $8,500 from the town’s unassigned general fund balance to be combined with $13,250 it had received from its insurance company and $12,320 it received from the sale of surplus property for the replacement of a police car. The car was totaled on Feb. 18 when an impaired driver struck the vehicle in the rear at the intersection of routes 258 and 460;
  • Move $3,500 from the police department’s fuel and tires line item to its vehicle maintenance line item to pay for front end work on other vehicles;
  • Enter into a contract with Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates to provide auditing services for the town for a period of three years with an option to extend for an additional two years;
  • Proceed with a water line mapping project contracted to Bowman Consulting, the cost of which is not to exceed $11,600. The project will ensure that all town water lines are listed on its geographic information system, and;
  • Appropriate a check for $2,654.18 from the town’s insurance company into the water fund operating budget to pay for repairs to a backhoe that was recently damaged while working in a cemetery.