Project Erwin: Downtown revitalization plan gains momentum

Brad Hicks • Jun 28, 2012 at 6:16 AM

ERWIN — By this time next year, construction on the first phase of the town of Erwin’s downtown revitalization project could be under way, and the engineering work necessary to get to that point is likely to soon begin.

Earlier this week, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously voted to enter into contracts with local engineering firm Tysinger, Hampton and Partners and planning firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, which was previously selected by the board to complete the revitalization master plan. These contracts are for the project’s engineering and construction services.

Kimley-Horn’s completed master plan, which calls for aesthetic and infrastructure improvements to downtown, was presented to the board in February. Erwin Town Recorder Randy Trivette said it was after completion of the master plan that the engineering firms began developing proposed costs to complete detailed engineering for the entire project.

Trivette said the first proposal given was around $510,700, which would have been approximately 19.7 percent of the total estimated project cost, which is around $2.6 million.

“So I started working with them and told them that was just a little higher than what we wanted to spend based on the size of the project and the scope of the project,” Trivette said. “We just kind of kept negotiating back and forth, and finally got them down to what I feel like was the best value they could do the project for without losing any components from the master plan.”

Trivette said the firms later agreed to $398,900, which represents about 15.4 percent of the estimated cost. But Trivette said the agreement includes more than just engineering services. It also includes construction services and will cover the cost of engineers being present to test the materials contractors are using and inspect the work to ensure it is meeting standards and design.

Of the $398,900, $99,600 will go to Tysinger, Hampton and Partners, and $299,300 will go to Kimley-Horn.

“The reason the engineering is a little more complicated is that there’s some things down there that we’re trying to take care of that, once it’s done, people won’t see but it’ll work like it’s supposed to,” Trivette said.

This work would include the addition of an underground retention pipe to collect stormwater and divert it down Union Street into an open ditch that would carry it to a creek. This, Trivette said, would prevent stormwater from backing up on Main Avenue. He said work also would include building evaluations prior to construction, which would consist of engineers taking pictures of adjacent buildings in the downtown area and evaluating their existing condition to ensure no damage is done to them once construction begins.

The contracts pertain to work that is to be completed along Main Avenue, and do not include the skate park and playground that are planned to be constructed along Nolichucky Avenue and were recommendations highlighted in the revitalization master plan. In December, the board approved the purchase of two parcels of property on Nolichucky to serve as the location for the playground and skate plaza.

However, Trivette said the town submitted an application on Wednesday for a Local Parks and Recreation grant that would help fund the playground and skate park. .

Trivette said officials are hopeful engineering work will be completed by December to early January, at which time it would be presented to the board. If the town is able to fund the first phase of construction, Trivette said officials would like to see it begin in March and completed in time for the Unicoi County Apple Festival in October 2013.

First phase construction would take place between Union and Gay Streets along Main Avenue. Trivette said this area represents the lowest part of the town where

Other work to improve the downtown area is either on the horizon or under way. On Wednesday, crews were out milling First, Second and Third streets, which is work the town had budgeted for capital projects.

Work also will soon begin on the second phase of the parking lot behind the Unicoi County Courthouse. On Monday, the board approved contracts for the demolition and construction necessary to complete this phase.

The board approved a contract with E. Luke Greene Co. for the demolition of the buildings along Church Street where the parking lot is to be located. The contract is for $42,750. Trivette said the demolition company must wait 10 days on a report from the state regarding asbestos in the vacant buildings. From there, the contractor would have 30 days to demolish the buildings.

The construction contract was awarded to Bowman and Sons Construction Co. for $155,162. The work will add around 60 additional parking spaces in downtown, and the parking lot as whole would provide more than 75 spaces. Trivette said hopes are the second phase construction will be finished by September, ahead of this year’s Apple Festival.

Trivette said these projects, along with the revitalization, are part of the town’s five-year capital improvement plan, which was initiated about two years ago.

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