Two city projects close to bids

Published 8:39 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Washington City Council’s meeting began with celebration — of the Washington 14U girls softball teams’ championship win and of the heroic actions of two men credited with saving an apartment complex from fire.

“Everyone remembers the winners,” Washington Mayor Archie Jennings told the 2013 Southeast Regional Champions. “On behalf of the entire city, congratulations on your success.”

Washington Police and Fire Director Stacy Drakeford, Fire Chief Robbie Rose and Lt. Doug Bissette joined Jennings in recognizing Jamel Edwards and George Burris Jr., the two men who rushed into a burning apartment to extinguish a kitchen fire at the Quail Ridge apartment complex on July 3.

“Because of their quick thinking, they prevented greater fire in that apartment and to the whole complex,” Drakeford said.

Edwards and Burris used what was on hand — cornmeal — to smother the grease fire.

The remainder of the council meeting Monday was strictly informational: Public Works Director Allen Lewis presented plans for the new airport terminal at Warren Field; Director of Planning and Development John Rodman discussed the city’s options for oversight of the proposed dockmaster’s station on the Washington waterfront.

Lewis illustrated the details of the new terminal design, but discussion centered around the estimated cost, to build the terminal — $1,330,185 — versus the budgeted amount for the project — $1,125,200 — a difference of $204,985.

“We believe the estimate is too high,” City Manager Brian Alligood told the council, adding that a competitive bidding market may whittle the actual cost down closer to the budgeted amount.

Councilman Bobby Roberson suggested one option of not finishing out the second floor immediately, but make the area intended for general use and meeting rooms another phase of construction.

At the request of Lewis, council voted to approve the airport design. The project is expected to be sent out for bid in October with bids returned by mid to late November.

A request during a previous council meeting had Rodman discussing the options for management of the dockmaster’s station to be built on the present sight of the flagpole at the western end Stewart Parkway. Currently, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, along with its recreation advisory committee, has oversight of the docks.

“Part of this was to bring me up to speed,” Alligood said. “I think in recent years the city has really come to realize how important our waterfront is to us.”

“I just wanted to throw out some possibilities for waterfront management of the docks,” Rodman said. “I know we all want the same result and want to be heading in the same direction.”

Rodman laid out management options, ranging from a new ad hoc waterfront advisory committee serving under the dockmaster to Washington Harbor District Alliance’s existing maritime committee; management by the Public Works Department to leasing the docks out to a for-profit party, thereby putting a commercial enterprise on public land.

“The word marina gets used a lot. Right now, we’ve got docks and you know how much ground we had to cover to get the docks born,” Jennings said. “We could argue about the state of the business, whether we want to be in the marina business.  I think the best recommendation and organization, as a whole, in my personal opinion, is we don’t need another committee. We need someone already on the playing field.”

Representing WHDA, President Chris Furlough weighed in, recommending that WHDA’s maritime committee be looked to for management, as its members are dedicated to implementing reinvestment strategy for downtown Washington, Furlough said.

“That committee has worked very diligently and very well with John Rodman to make that happen,” Furlough said, adding that the committee’s success and enthusiasm for the plan shows their goal to represent the city and make the boat docks the best that they can be.

The bid process for the dockmaster’s station that includes boaters’ showers, laundry facilities and public restrooms has been delayed by a few weeks and is now  expected to be completed by council’s September meeting, Rodman said.