With Mayor John Muhlfeld out of town for the City Council meeting on March 7, Deputy Mayor Frank Sweeney and the Councilors successfully dealt with a myriad of issues on the full agenda.
Water main bid rejection approved
In an unusual twist on the typical council proceedings, Public Works Director Craig Workman requested council reject the only bid received for construction of the new Spokane Avenue water main. The bid was rejected.
“This is a new one for me, I don’t think I’ve seen this before,” Sweeney said.
Workman explained six contractors applied and were qualified to bid on the project but only one construction bid came in on Feb. 24.
“The bid was from Sandry Construction in the amount of $3,402,963,” Workman said. “This was about 70% over our estimate for the construction of the project which was $2 million.”
Workman said plenty of time was given for the bid and there were no requests for more time, but the short construction window caused several contractors to not bid on the project.
Staff will re-bid the project and allow contractors to begin construction this fall and finish next spring, thereby completing the work in two phases, Workman added.
“It will attract more competition and provide the city with more cost-effective construction costs,” said Workman.
City to bid Armory Park Phase 3
The city is hoping to move ahead with the next phase of Armory Park improvements which could include construction of new mixed-use paths, the addition of benches and improvements to the WAG Park.
Whitefish’s Armory Park is the largest city park, encompassing 30 acres and it is time for Phase three of the Armory Park Master Plan which was updated by the park board in 2019. At the council meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Maria Butts requested authorization to proceed with the bidding for this part of the plan.
According to the staff report, this phase includes the construction of a shared-use path, irrigation improvements, a parking lot, and drainage improvements in the base bid. Butts also described seven additive alternates that will be considered, including a new well, tree planting and WAG Park improvements.
The estimated budget for the project is $749,700 with all the potential improvements and the current budget for the project is nearly $200,000 less than that, said Butts. When the staff gets a bid, they will review the construction costs and choose which alternates to include, according to the staff report.
Council authorized the request and if an acceptable bid is received and approved, construction is expected to begin in June and be completed by August.
Music school at Smith Fields
City staff recommended the council approve an amendment to the lease that will, among other things, allow North Valley Music School (NVMS) to lease a part of the land and build a new school. In 2004, Project Whitefish Kids (PWK) donated approximately 51 acres of land known as Smith Fields to the city and the city leased Smith Fields back to PWK.
Gloria Nelson, executive director of PWK, and Diedre Corson, executive director of NVMS, spoke during public comment in favor of the lease amendment agreement. Corson said she is looking forward to the collaboration between the city, Project Whitefish Kids and North Valley Music School.
“We are looking forward to the next 70 years with our new lease to create a fabulous youth recreational facility for our entire community. We are currently working on finalizing the sublease with North Valley Music School,” said Nelson.
A city staff report outlines the proposed changes to the lease, including a 70-year term, clarified liability insurance requirements, the ability for Project Whitefish Kids to sell alcoholic beverages in conjunction with fundraising events and the deletion of provisions requiring PWK to submit financial reports to the city.
The amendment passed unanimously.
City amends Twins’ lease
At the meeting, Parks Director Maria Butts explained the long-term lease agreement between the Glacier Twins and the city, and also the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was approved at the time of constructing a Verizon tower on the property eight years ago.
The city last week was seeking approval to amend the agreement.
The amendment includes upping the insurance listed on the lease agreement from $1 million to $1.5 million. This does not cost the city more as it was already established in a previous MOU, but now the insurance coverage will be correct in the original lease. The amendment also added that the Park Board should be consulted when the Twins are considering subleasing the stadium to an outside party.
A 25-year lease between the city and the Glacier Twins began in 2003. In 2014 a memorandum of understanding was developed for the construction of a Verizon tower on the property. It amended the long-term lease and changed the insurance clause.
Butts asked council on March 7 to adopt the resolution amending the Glacier Twins’ long-term lease of the land at Memorial Park.
There were no questions and Council approved the resolution.
Daycare numbers modified
The item with the longest title on the evening’s agenda was the quickest to act upon. The request was to redefine the number of individuals allowable at in-home daycares, changing the number from 12 to 15 children.
“It is a pretty simple text amendment to Title 11,” explained Tara Osendorf, a long-range planner with the Whitefish Planning Department. “The planning board recommendation was to recommend approval to council.”
There were no questions from council and no public comment; the matter passed unanimously.