City still waiting to officially award bid for water treatment plant construction

By Gary Scott on September 15, 2015 at 9:09am

Hold-ups with a grant application are forcing the City of Jacksonville to make slight modifications in its plans for a new water treatment plant.

Jamie Headen, an engineer with Benton and Associates, explained to city aldermen last night that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has not yet announced if Jacksonville will be the winner of a million-dollar grant that would be used for the water plant project.

DCEO officials have advised that if the city awards a bid for the project, it may jeopardize grant funding. Aldermen announced Williams Brothers out of Peoria was the low bidder for construction back in May with a total of nearly $31 million, but the bid hasn’t officially yet been awarded.

Headen says Williams Brothers has extended its bid through October 15th, meaning the city has more time to process bid award potential.

“Just receiving that information in the last couple days wasn’t a lot of time for the city to really consider it this evening, for sure, although we could have. The better approach is to make sure we follow up on some of the grant items the city’s been working with those folks, and then maybe consider the notice of award to Williams Brothers in two weeks,” Headen says.

Headen says there’s no indication as to when a grant announcement may happen. He says the city’s application would be one of the stronger ones.

“The program rules state that they’re supposed to have the money spent by next June. They will be able to spend the money very quickly and close out the grant in a timely fashion, which should meet their program requirements very well,” says Headen.

“They did give a clarification today that the city could go ahead and award the project, and it won’t jeopardize the grant, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have the grant, so they’re still evaluating those. The city’s application wasn’t the only one, so they’re looking at it statewide and the counties that were eligible, and reviewing those. I think they’re in the final stages of that, so we hope soon that we get an announcement on that,” he adds.

The rest of the cost of the project will be covered through a low-interest loan through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Also last night, Alderman Steve Warmowski brought up his desire to see the city undertake more dredging projects for Lake Mauvaisterre.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard notes the city dredged about 20 to 30 percent of the lake with the three million dollars spent on last year’s project. He says as funding becomes available, the city may turn what was a big lake reclamation project into smaller ones.

“With the help of our engineers and the utility committee, we do discuss dredging, not only for Lake Mauvaisterre, but Lake Jacksonville, and also Lake Morgan and Nichols Park. We’re very cognizant that we do need to do some future dredging, and we’re going to have to make the appropriate plans to set some money aside for the future,” says Ezard.

“I completely agree with Alderman Warmowski that we do not want our lakes to be silted in.”

Ezard says dredging projects may fall into the Lake Mauvaisterre Watershed Project.

Aldermen approved a new contract for electric services for the city through Constellation Energy for a rate of 4.78 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s an increase from the previous contract the city had with Homefield Energy for 3.796 cents.

Property at 720 East College was approved to switch from business to residential.