Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hailey staff takes on public information

City cuts costs on Woodside Boulevard project

Express Staff Writer

Hailey elected officials and staff members will take on a hefty share of the public involvement process related to a scheduled redevelopment of Woodside Boulevard this summer.

The move is planned as a cost-saving measure to ensure that the project moves forward.

The timeline for completion of the $5.7 million project was recently shortened to one summer, rather than two, in order to meet federal grant guidelines. The scope of the project was also scaled back considerably to meet budget constraints.

Alerting Woodside residents as to the changes is expected to cost about $48,000 in communication costs, half of which will be covered by city leaders and staff salaries.

"This puts the city in direct contact with the public, and I like that part of it," City Administrator Heather Dawson said during a City Council meeting Monday.

Putting city staff and council members to work on the public information campaign will save the city about $23,000 on a bill from The Langdon Group, a subsidiary of JUB Engineers, the company overseeing the design and reconstruction of Woodside Boulevard.

The Langdon Group will undertake $26,300 worth of public information work, including $7,000 of "hard costs" such as posters and printing materials.

"What they [The LangdonGroup] have that we don't have is professional expertise in public involvement," Dawson said.

The city will depend heavily on Grants Administrator Tracy Anderson, who will update a city website and prepare emails. City Councilman Don Keirn volunteered Monday to go door-to-door on Woodside Boulevard, alerting property owners about changes to the construction timeline and street and sidewalk design changes.

The new design will eliminate 10 bus pullouts, traffic calming measures and a "pedestrian refuge," and reduce sidewalks from 6-foot to 5-foot widths. The changes are expected to bring construction costs down to $3.8 million or less.

City leaders have said that if construction bids exceed $3.8 million, the project will be terminated, forfeiting a $3.5 million federal grant and almost $1 million in engineering costs to date.

The City Council will hold a special meeting on Dec. 19 to ratify the changes and authorize an amended grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation to proceed with the project.

In other Hailey news:

( A settlement in a dispute was reached between the city and the Indian Creek Homeowners Association over claims to water rights, leaving the city ensured that it can continue using water decreed under a 1985 agreement.

( The city was recently set aglow for the holiday season with $1,800 in Christmas lights purchased by the South Valley Merchants Association. The city installed the lights at a cost of $1,200.

( Juerg Stauffacher was appointed to the Hailey Tree Committee.

Tony Evans:

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