Basalt signals openness to alternate construction schedule, if a contractor could provide it
Local produce and arts enthusiasts will see the 14th summer of the Basalt Sunday Market even as the Midland Avenue Streetscape construction is underway.
Phase I of the project involves the construction on the Midland Spur, or the road behind Basalt Town Hall flanked by Two Rivers Road and Midland Avenue, where the market is usually held. Construction is anticipated to take until mid-to-late June.
The first day of the market is scheduled for June 18 and to run weekly through Sept. 24. If Phase I construction takes longer than anticipated, town staff said they will likely relocate the market to the Basalt River Park.
While the construction schedule for later phases of the streetscape project was not on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, it came up during public comment.
Laura Maine, owner of Tempranillo restaurant in the historic downtown, called in for public comment to press the council on the possibility of rescheduling construction away from summer peak season.
“I have no desire to be adversarial with you guys. I would much prefer that we’d be in Tempranillo to have a margarita or a glass of wine,” she said to the council. “Our one concern is to do the work in the spring and the fall and not in the summer.”
She referenced a petition she circled among Basalt businesses that gathered more than 30 signatures from some Midland Avenue business owners and employees. She also said she and other business owners have discussed seeking compensation from the town if their businesses lose money during construction periods.
“I will say that if (our business’ incomes) show a difference this summer, we are going to come back to you seeking compensation,” Maine said. “That said, if you seriously consider and do the work in the spring and fall, not the summer, I will not pursue anything because I think that’s reasonable for completion of the project.”
She did not specify with whom she spoke to or if she meant that she would sue the town.
Resident Ted Guy echoed Maine’s concern over water-line construction and location along Midland Avenue.
“It’s really discouraging to see that your impetus seems to be to bring back the Sunday market and destroy the year-round businesses,” he said.
The council pushed back on that comment, and town staff brought up plans to explore an alternative construction schedule.
“I think we really believe that the best solution for all sort will come from working intensely together on this,” said Mayor Bill Kane. “We’re going to constantly evaluate the schedule, the timing, the calendar, and we’re going to do our damnedest to make sure that access is preserved.”
He said that the concert schedule, parking at the spur, and a potential shuttle service will keep foot traffic in downtown Basalt high throughout the summer.
Town Manager Ryan Mahoney jumped in to let the public know about a plan to explore alternative contracts for Phase II of the streetscape project, one to prioritize cost-efficacy and construction outside of peak summer months.
“We do want to see what is possible as far as schedule, and so we would be prepared to send (the call for bids) out. Catherine (Christoff) and Michelle (Thibeault) have been working really hard on that over the last several days,” he said. “Once we come back with a contract, it would give (council) the ability to make an informed decision.”
That process to receive bids would take several weeks, he said.
Planning director Michelle Thibeault said that re-opening the bid for Phase II is more about double-checking that the town will pay the most competitive construction price.
“Double-checking the price is not necessarily about the businesses raising alarm,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to do a cost analysis.”
They expect the existing contractor Stutsman-Gerbaz would submit a bid.
Town staff re-opened bids for both the bandshell and restroom/bus stop structure for the Basalt River Park due to post-pandemic volatility in the construction market. The new bids all came in over the original contract budget.
“It’s an insurance policy. It’s just consistent with double-checking (construction costs and schedules),” Thibeault said of re-opening the bid. She also said that the town would consider approving a new contract if it made sense.
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