WINTER GARDEN — With the threat of further road collapse looming, Winter Garden city commissioners approved a $1.1 million contract with DeWitt Excavating to complete a sewer-replacement project on Ninth Street north of State Road 50.
The decision was made during the commission’s meeting Nov. 13. Assistant City Manager for Public Services Don Cochran told commissioners a portion of Ninth Street, about 150 feet north of the sewer lift station, had collapsed and that more damage could occur if a replacement project doesn’t begin soon.
The city originally awarded a contract for the work in June to Morris and Associates. However, that company was unable to get started on the project because of a loss of key personnel. Cochran recommended the city award the contract to DeWitt Excavating. The commission approved the new contract unanimously.
Cochran said DeWitt had the heavy equipment and the capacity to get to work right away. The 22 days of rain the area experienced in September and October caused the water table to rise. November’s dry weather then lowered the water table, increasing the danger of dry spots of the road bed crumbling. Two weeks ago, a car driving on Ninth Street fell into a hole and needed a complete front-end repair.
The city and Morris and Associates agreed to terminate their contract. The company will receive $7,447.04 for costs incurred.
The original repair plan called for two lanes of Ninth Street to remain open to traffic during reconstruction. However, to complete the work more quickly, the new plan will close the street to all but local traffic during construction. DeWitt Excavating made the highest bid when the project was bid out earlier this year. Closing the street allows DeWitt to deploy more heavy equipment and thus lower their previous bid to about $988,000.
The approved $1.1 million price includes a 15% contingency. Cochran expects DeWitt to start work within two weeks and complete the reconstruction in 90 to 120 days.
Commissioner Bobby Olszewski thanked the city staff for its hard work on the project.
“Please let Mr. DeWitt know this is an important project and to expedite it,” he said.
Commissioners also agreed to award DeWitt Excavating a contract for $734,346.29, including a 10% contingency, to widen SunRidge Boulevard. That project will start in January and is scheduled to end before the start of the school year in August 2015. The schools preferred that schedule.
IN OTHER NEWS
• Winter Garden Police Chief George Brennan welcomed the department’s newest officer, Jessica McCambridge. She is a Florida native, born in Plantation, and a graduate of Sebring High School.
• The commission passed unanimously the first reading of an ordinance to bring police and firefighter pension funds in compliance with a state law that allows investments in foreign securities up to 25%. The second reading will take place Dec. 11.
• Commissioners passed unanimously the first reading of ordinances to annex about 11.1 acres at 1205 E. Fullers Cross Road on the north side of the road and rezone the land from Orange County A-2 farmland rural to city R-1B residential. City staff recommended approval of a plan to develop 26 75-foot lots on the property.
• The commission passed the second reading of an ordinance to rezone about .32 acres at 203 S. Main St. from residential to commercial. This will enable the current owner, who bought it in May, to convert it to an office or artist gallery. The vote was 4-1, with Mayor John Rees dissenting.
• Commissioners approved the final plat for Hickory Hammock Phase 1D. This part of the city near Avalon and Marsh roads continues to grow. The plan calls for 149 lots on 101 acres.
• The commission approved the purchase of one 2015 Elgin Mechanical Street Sweeper under the state’s contract for an amount not to exceed $239,717.
The city currently owns one Elgin Street Sweeper, but its vacuum attachment picks up sand from the brick streets and can’t be turned off. The new Sweeper will not have that feature.
• The next commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11, in City Hall commission chambers, 300 W. Plant St.