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Waterline improvements on Sixth Avenue between Commercial and Merchant streets will take longer than expected, according to an update received by Emporia City Commissioners Wednesday morning.

City Engineer Jim Ubert said the two bids for the project, which would see the installation of a 10-inch waterline on the south side of Sixth Avenue, came in much higher than the budgeted cost.

“Our budget was about $155,000,” Ubert said. “One bid came in at $255,000, and the other came in at $310,000.”

Ubert said budgets for projects are based on cost estimates and opinions based on what the city has seen in the past. Factors such as contractor pricing, peak season rates and labor availability cannot always be forecasted accurately.

“We can’t always predict everything,” he said.

Ubert said the plan now is to recommend that commissioners reject the two bids that came in for the project during its action session next week, and then put the project back out for bids again with some modifications to try and get the project back within the city’s projected budget range.

The waterline work is part of an agreement with Haag Management Inc. as part of the current development of Preston Plaza and Lofts on the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Merchant Street. Once the waterline is in place, the city will abandon the existing 4-inch waterline in the area.

Ubert and City Attorney Christina Montgomery also spoke with commissioners about recent conversations with Lyon County Rural Water District No. 2 representatives to purchase a portion of RWD No. 2’s service territory along US Highway 50 between the Kansas Turnpike and Road F and Americus Road from the railroad tracks to Road 180. The conversation began as the result of the need to relocate portions of the RWD No. 2 waterlines to accommodate the Kansas Department of Transportation for its upcoming expressway project, which necessitates moving water across the highway.

The transition would put some RWD No. 2 customers on Emporia’s water system, with rural water rates.

“It seems it makes sense with the city having the potential to grow in this direction as KDOT’s investment — forgive my pun — as they pave the way for the city’s growth in that direction,” Ubert said. “They’re helping us pay for Road F as well. This just seems like a logical conversation.”

Annexation has not been included in conversations with RWD No. 2.

Commissioners gave the authority to proceed with negotiations toward a final agreement on the purchase and transfer.

WLW Auditorium

Commissioners also discussed possible improvements to WLW Auditorium’s acoustics due to the number of complaints received about reverberations during sporting and special events. Local company Audio Lite has submitted a bid to install lapidary ceiling panels and tectum finale wall panels to improve sound absorption and reduce reverberations.

The city has budgeted $175,000 for the improvements and has consulted with acoustics expert Bob Coffeen of R.C. Coffeen Consultant.

Terry and Cody Maxfield of Audio Lite said treating the auditorium for reverberations would make the space more “usable” in the long run.

The necessary equipment would take approximately 3 - 4 weeks to arrive once ordered. The timeline to get the job completed was a little more difficult to narrow down, Cody Maxfield said, based on events schedules.

“If we could work in here full-time, it would be about a month,” he said.

Commissioner Becky Smith had concerns about how the paneling could affect the auditorium’s historic building status, but said she did not object to putting a contract on the agenda for next week to get the process started.

The city will next meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday for an action session in the Municipal Court Room, 518 Mechanic St.

(1) comment

Ril

If this waterline is being upgraded to satisfy Haag's request, then shouldn't he pay for it, and not the taxpayers? After all, he is the one that stands to make money because of it. This smells a bit like a good 'ol boy backroom agreement to me.

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