The Sarasota City Commission unanimously approved the first phase of work from the new engineering firm in charge of the Lift Station 87 project, directing the group to begin engineering and designing the completion of the construction.
Representatives from McKim and Creed, the engineering firm overseeing the project, outlined their initial recommendations for finishing the oft-delayed project. After being hired in August, McKim and Creed conducted geological research to determine how to proceed with the work before formally beginning the design process.
Robert Garland, the project manager and vice president with McKim and Creed, said he was confident the group could successfully complete the work at Lift Station 87, located in Luke Wood Park at 1900 Mound St. The project would include a combination of open-cut and microtunneling techniques to install underground pipes, diverting sewage to the new station from Lift Station 7 at 935 Pomelo Ave.
During Tuesday’s meeting, officials estimated the remaining project costs could total somewhere around $9 million, although they said that price was fluid. In total, the work at Lift Station 87 is projected to be roughly $21 milion, nearly $9 million more than the original $12.4 million budget. Commissioners were upset by the overall price total, but were resigned to accept it as a sunk cost.
The previous engineering firm was fired for its inability to microtunnel beneath the bayou, but Garland said McKim and Creed has conducted research that will ensure the process is not problematic. Mayor Shannon Snyder bemoaned the ballooning costs of the project, but said he was glad a new engineering firm was hired and detected the flaws in the earlier plans before the situation got even worse.
“This is bad no matter how you cut it, but I think the fact that we found out this stuff before we had a bigger tragedy was even more important,” Snyder said.
McKim and Creed will now return to the City Commission with a contract for the second phase of work on the project. The group hopes to complete its design work by April and begin construction in October. The targeted completion date is November 2015.
Also at Tuesday’s commission meeting:
• The City Commission approved the purchase of a new records management and dispatch system for the Sarasota Police Department, a cost of about $850,000. Commissioners had rejected the same proposal at an Oct. 21 meeting, but praised the department for returning with a more thorough presentation. Earlier concerns about SPD’s ability to share data with other local law enforcement agencies dissipated for the majority of the commission, which authorized the expenditure after a 4-1 vote.
• Commissioners approved $5,000 in funding for a feasibility study regarding affordable live/work housing for artists. If the study is fully funded at $12,500, consultants from the nonprofit agency Artspace will come to Sarasota and provide an outline for how to develop artist housing in the city, with a particular emphasis on the North Trail.
• Commissioners discussed the long-term operational funding of a potential regional homeless shelter located in the city of Sarasota, with Vice Mayor Willie Shaw expressing a concern about the city bearing an undue financial burden. Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown said staff would reach out to homeless consultant Robert Marbut to discuss any concerns commissioners had.
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