Streetscape decision made

Despite some strong – but insufficient – opposition, Bellevue Council has decided to move forward with the next phase of its Lincoln Avenue streetscape project using the same design firm, although no one is quite sure exactly what that will cost.

Bellevue has received a grant of $300,000 for Phase V of the project that in past years has been criticized by many for the resulting flooding on the borough’s main street, the failure of newly constructed sidewalks and crosswalks, and the uneven installation of cobblestone that has created a tripping hazard along some portion of the streets. Others have expressed concern over project delays that have required extensions by Allegheny County so as not to lose the grant funding, and a lack of oversight and efficiency in the construction.

Quaker Valley Council of Governments director Susan Hockenberry attended the November pre-council meeting two weeks ago to state that council needed to approve a preliminary design by the end of the year, a final design and specifications by mid-February, solicit bids for a contract to be awarded by mid-March, and be ready for construction to begin by mid-April.

At Tuesday’s regular council meeting, council member Linda Woshner made a motion to advertise for proposals for a new design firm. While council members Grant Saylor and Vencent Menosky had no complaints with the work done in the past by Civil and Environmental Consultants (CEC) and project manager Brad Hazelwood, Kathy Coder and Tom Fodi argued that there was insufficient time to hire a new firm and get a preliminary design by the end of the year, which, they said, could end up costing Bellevue the grant.

“I am not willing to gamble with losing that,” Fodi said.

Woshner, however, stated that Dec. 31 was an artificial deadline, and noted that the project did not have to be put out for bids until February, leaving enough time to hire a firm, get a preliminary design and be prepared with specifications by the middle of February.

Woshner’s motion was supported by Henry Lenard, Tom Hrynda and council president Lynn Tennant Heffley who said, “If you hire somebody to do your kitchen and you don’t like their work, you don’t hire them back to do your bathroom.”

The motion was defeated in a 5-4 vote with Fodi, Coder, Saylor, Menosky and Mike Kendall opposed.

Coder then made a motion to renew the borough’s contract with CEC and have the company prepare a preliminary design for Phase V. Mayor Paul Cusick and Lenard quickly pointed out that council would be acting blindly, with no idea what CEC might charge for the service. Coder initially proposed that the cost be limited to this year’s price tag, something Hazelwood – who was in the audience at the meeting – said his company “probably” could do. The final motion approved by council in the same 5-4 vote instead requires CEC to submit the cost by Dec. 5.