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By Ed Fincher
According to the Pagosa Springs 5-year Capitol Street Improvement Plan, the two-block section of Piedra Street between 8th and 10th streets was supposed to be paved during the 2012 season and the project was supposed to cost $110,000.
However, Strohecker Asphalt and Paving turned in a proposal to do the project, including the 200 square feet of intersection at Piedra and South 10th streets for $79,550. That price would have included grinding up the old pavement and using it as a base, then putting four inches of fresh asphalt on top of that base.
“When I first brought this to council’s attention,” town manager David Mitchem said at a Sept. 6 town council meeting, “I was under the impression that that was an extraordinary price. I have since then found there is another contractor that would do it for about $83,000. It is still a good price. It can be done without a great deal of engineering because there isn’t curb and gutter and sidewalks in that area. So what you have before you is a very good price for doing the work; it’s not a screaming bargain.”
Mitchem referred to section 2.5.7 of the municipal code, which states, “Town Council is authorized to approve contracts for any amount, without an informal or formal bidding process, for goods or services that, in the opinion of the town council, are best obtained from a single or sole source due to one or more factors including, but not limited to, specialized skills, special knowledge and/or experience, unique and relevant experience, knowledge of the town and geographic region, or exceptional qualifications or reputation in the field.”
Council member Darrel Cotton said, “Going sole source when we have a competitor that’s right there is a little hard for me to do. I want Strohecker to get to work because he is a local guy, but I’m not sure we’re not stepping out there where we shouldn’t.
“Since I’ve got the floor,” Cotton continued, “we need to accommodate a sidewalk when we do this. I appreciate a good offer and I’d like to do it, but I don’t want to jump out and pay for roads and then go tear half of it up the next year. We’ve got to put a sidewalk there. It goes to the elementary; it goes up to all the soccer fields. I about ran over a guy walking down from there.”
Council member David Schanzenbaker said, “I am a little skeptical of trying to do something like this sole source. Thirty thousand dollars sounds like a great deal, but we might just want to wait and do it in next year’s budget the right way.”
Police Chief Bill Rockensock confirmed that there is a small section of sidewalk already in existence in that area, and council member Kathie Lattin agreed the project should include completing the entire sidewalk for the safety of the elementary school students in that area.
“If the council believes we ought to add sidewalk to this project,” Mitchem said, “then it would be my recommendation we not do it this year. That will require some engineering, it will add to the cost, and it would be staff’s recommendation it not be taken on until 2014 or 2015. I have no objection to sidewalks. I think for safety’s sake it is a good idea.”
Council member Don Volger agreed with the need for a sidewalk and the need to put the project up for bids instead of offering it sole source, so Mayor Ross Aragon let the matter die without calling for a motion or vote.
This admission by town council for the need to have curbs, gutters and sidewalks on town streets would come up later in the meeting during the discussion of Alpha Drive and the promise to bring that road up to town standards before ownership was accepted from the county through a quit claim deed (see related story).