Bellevue Streetscape Phase II

With not a single shovel having yet hit the ground for construction of the first phase of Bellevue’s Lincoln Avenue streetscape, the borough council put the brakes on an attempt to push through a contract for the second phase until a number of questions could be answered.

Bellevue was awarded grants of $125,000 for the first phase and $150,000 for the second phase of a project that will replace sidewalks and lighting, and create environmentally sustainable infrastructure and landscaping along the main street of town., including the much-debated “bump-outs” that will extend sidewalk areas at some intersections.

The borough also received a $50,000 grant for the overall streetscape design and preparation of construction specifications for the first phase. A contract for that work was awarded to the CEC firm in December, 2011, with plans due to the Alleghjeny County Department of Economic Development by Sept. 30, 2012.

Numerous delays in the process resulted in the work not being finished until mid-2013, and the project was bid so late in the year that construction has been delayed until this spring.

Those delays, along with a lack of competitive quotes for the Phase II work, prompted a number of questions and concerns from council members and citizens at Tuesday’s regular council meeting.

That meeting’s agenda contained a motion to award a contract to CEC for Phase II work at a price of $24,250. Although past matters related to the streetscape have been handled by council’s public works committee, this motion came through the finance committee, now chaired by Kathy Coder.

Coder was absent from the meeting, and no one could say for sure how the motion had come to be, or how CEC had come to submit the proposal. Director of administrative services Ron Borczyk said that he had spoken to the borough’s engineer, who believed it was possible that other design firms could charge more to familiarize themselves with the details of the project already known to CEC. No proposals were submitted from other design firms, he said.

Council member Linda Woshner fielded questions from new council members, who asked why CEC had been awarded the original contract when it’s price was $4,000 higher than the next proposal, and what had caused the delays. Woshner declined to go into details during the meeting, but said that she did not believe the delays had anything to do with council.

It was supposed to be done in nine months. It was not done in nine months,” she said of the Phase I work.

Mayor Paul Cusick said that “because of the way it went through council, we almost lost it (the grant),” and that “We’re still that close to losing it.” Similar statements had surfaced during the election last file, and Woshner had contacted county officials who, she said, told her that the county had no problems with the Borough of Bellevue’s actions during the project.

“We pay people to keep us on track,” Woshner said.

Council member Lynn Tennant Heffley said that, putting aside personality and political conflicts, there still remained a problem in the borough’s history with the firm, and proposals from other firms were warranted.

Borczyk said that he would check on the actual deadlines for the Phase II work and report at the committee meetings to be held next Tuesday.

Google Video