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Boat landing project in limbo
In Boscobel
boat landing
The Boscobel Boat Landing can be a busy place when a large group of canoeists arrives Sunday after a weekend camping trip on the Lower Wisconsin River, like this group of 78 from the Ginger Creek Community Church in Aurora, Ill. They left Gotham Saturday morning on their 12th annual canoe trip here, camped on a sandbar near Port Andrew Saturday night, and arrived in Boscobel late Sunday morning.

BOSCOBEL - Boscobel’s boat landing overhaul hit a back eddy this week when bids for the project were unsealed: The lowest bid came in well over budget.

The total price tag of the project, including allocated engineering costs, bumped to about $2 million, instead of the projected $1.3 million the city had hoped for. Federal and state grants account for $831,000 of the budget, meaning that the city would be on tap for nearly $1.2 million—or about three times the original budget.

The city council got the bad news at Monday’s council meeting from Mike Reynolds, Boscobel’s Director of Public Works / City Engineer.

“We had four bidders which is good. The price of the bids was what was bad,” said Reynolds. Strand Associates, the Madison engineering firm under contract to manage the bidding, opened bids on June 15. “They’re significantly over what Strand had anticipated.”

A proposed upgrade

The plan to improve the boat launch dates to 2015, when the city formed a commission to reduce boat congestion, improve signage and parking, and solve other problems at the landing.

The current plan includes expanded parking, an enhanced boat launch, and improvements to the backwater to make it fishable.

With the original price tag of $1.3 million, the grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) were projected to cover most of the costs, with the city picking up the tab for between $300,000 and $400,000, most of which was allocated to cover the engineer costs with Strand. The engineers have already been paid $100,000.

Not dead yet

Reynolds plans to review the bid with the winning company, G-Pro Excavating, which is the same firm that won the street work currently under construction in Boscobel.

The breakouts in the bid for the boat landing seem high in comparison to the street project, according to Reynolds. “We’re paying $90 per ton for blacktop. The bid was $145 per ton. That’s a pretty significant increase. So, we’d like to go back and see if there’s a reason that some of the numbers are so high.”

Another option to chip away at the costs would be to take on some aspects with city workers through a process called “force account work.” For example, Reynolds said the bid allocates $50,000 for clearing the land of vegetation in preparation for the construction phase. “It would probably only cost us $10,000 or $20,000 to do that ourselves,” he said.

A third strategy is to go after more grant money, and city officials will meet this week with contacts at the state level to find out what might be available.

“There’s a lot of Covid dollars coming in from a number of different sources,” Reynolds told the council. We’re seeing it at the DOT. We’re seeing it with railroad projects. We’re seeing it with the DNR. We’re seeing it everywhere.”

On hold

The council took no action on Reynold’s information at its meeting this week, but will wait until the second July council meeting, when the city engineer will report back to the group.

“I mean look, there’s four bids there. It’s not like you got one bid: ‘Geez did they really try to stick us?’” The highest bid is only $148,000 higher than the lowest. “I’ll come back in a month, and you can make a decision whether to move forward with this project or not,” Reynolds said. “Right now, it’s a pretty expensive project.”

Other news

During its meeting, the council also approved:

• Adopting a guidance policy for auditing federal grants as required by the federal government.

• Making a required annual report to the DNR on the city water treatment facility.

• Revising the fair housing statement in the city housing code to comply with federal requirements.

• Hiring Nick Miranda to the street department since he’d been the alternate when the job was originally posted.

• Purchasing Badger Books, an electronic poll book, for

$6,443, using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.