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Erwin Moves Ahead on Downtown

By Keeli Parkey
Staff Writer
[email protected]
Monday evening, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen took an important step forward in the town’s downtown revitalization project. In an unanimous vote, the board voted to enter into contracts with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. and Tysinger, Hampton and Partners for engineering and construction services for the downtown revitalization project.
“Based on our downtown beautification project, we started working on a plan due to the detailed engineering for the downtown to include all the components of the master plan,” City Recorder Randy Trivette told the board before the vote. “The original proposal that I got in from Kimley-Horn and Tysinger, Hampton came in at about $510,700. That’s based on an estimated project cost of an estimated $2.6 million.”
The $510,700 represents 19.7 percent of the total project cost and covers engineering detail, design and construction services. This proposal, Trivette said, will cover the revitalization project along Main Avenue and at each intersection going 50 feet in each direction on downtown’s cross streets – Gay, Union and Tucker.
“There’s a long list of the scope of the work,” Trivette also told the board.
Construction services will be important to the project:
“Construction services is something that the state is pushing right now that needs to be done while construction is going on so that all the materials being put in are tested and recorded and all the ditches and things that are being covered up are inspected by an engineering service group,” Trivette explained.
After receiving the initial proposal estimate, Trivette said he negotiated with Kimley-Horn and Tysinger, Hampton for a lower price.
“We’ve sat down a number of times,” he said.
As a result of those meetings, the firms have agreed to lower the cost to $398,900 or 15.4 percent of the total project cost.
Trivette told the board that he was pleased with this price tag, saying that it is “really, really good” and “below market to get that type of work done for that.”
Through the approved contracts, the firms will provide all the detailed engineering design for the downtown revitalization project along Main Avenue, except for the parts of the project that will be the responsibility of Erwin Utilities.
“The utilities will work along with us,” Trivette said.
As of Monday’s meeting, the projected timeline for the downtown revitalization project sets the start of construction around March 2013.
“The engineering should take about six to eight months to complete. We are really hoping to get them started in July and have them finish the engineering so they can present a 100 percent completed drawing package to the board by the end of December or sometime in January,” Trivette said during the meeting.
The project will then be advertised and a bidding period will follow. Trivette said the town hopes construction of the first phase of the project will begin in March 2013.
The project is scheduled to progress in phases, with the first phase of construction taking place between Union Street and Gay Street along Main Avenue.
The first phase must be completed by September 2013 so that it does not interfere with the staging of the Unicoi County Apple Festival.
“Once Apple Festival is over, we will wait for the holiday period to end and turn around and do the same thing the next year,” Trivette said. “The good thing about that is that it will put us into different budget years each time we do these phases, so we can spread it out and pay for it as we go.”
To help with the cost, Trivette said the town and the engineers will “actively search” for grant money to fund the project.
“I think this is an important project,” Trivette said. “It’s going to improve a lot of things downtown.”
Trivette told the board the entire downtown revitalization project could be completed in five years.
Following Trivette’s comments, the board members voted 4-0 in favor of approving the $398,900 contracts with Kimley-Horn and Tysinger, Hampton and Partners.
The board’s next meeting will be a budget work session on Thursday, July 12, at 4 p.m. This meeting will be held at the public works garage on Watauga Avenue in Erwin.