Bid awarded in building second tornado shelter

Chief Zach Weber, left, introduces two new police officers, Tony Garcia, who will have the police dog; and Gabriel Frias, a former Moody County dispatcher, while officer Rob Neuenfeldt looks on at the April 15 city council meeting. Both Garcia and Frias are fluent in Spanish.

A Pierre company was awarded the contract to build a second tornado shelter in Flandreau but not without some city council opposition over the cost.
F.R.S. Inc., doing business as Solbros Construction, was the lowest bidder at $231,000 for the shelter planned at Henry and Prospect in the north part of town. That amount is more than the city initially planned and puts the project over budget before it starts.
Part of the reason for the increase is that federal standards have changed and require bigger block and new codes.
“I’m assuming those structural items are what really increased our prices,” said David Lorang, project manager with Banner Associates of Sioux Falls. “I don’t think they have a lot of fluff. There isn’t a lot of room to take things out or change things.”
He did work with the company to cut $9,412 out of the cost by changing some items, including the color of the block and making interior benches from plastic instead of wood.
Three council members challenged whether the city needed to go over budget for a shelter when there are other options in the community. The bid was eventually approved on a 4-2 vote with aldermen Dan Sutton and Jason Unger voting against the project.
“I think the biggest issue here is the money,” Unger said. While the city even planned to go over budget, the actual bid was even higher yet, he said.
“I don’t think the value of this project is worth going over our budget,” Unger said. “We’re in a budget where we budgeted a cushion. The cushion was wiped out.”
Sutton said there are other facilities that can be used in a storm and the project’s cost is far over budget. That money may be needed for other things, including the downtown structure that is crumbling and may fall to the city to mitigate.
“I would like to have that cushion in our bank account so we have funds there to address it if the need arises,” he said. “With this particular project, today I think we have more pressing interests.”
The project will be paid for largely through a federal grant.
Alderman Brad Bjerke said the amount is only $6,000 more than the city intended on spending.  The shelter is valuable to residents living in the area of town where it will be built, in case there is a storm. The money to build it is available, Bjerke said.
He was joined in support by Don Whitman, Karen Tufty and Bob Pesall, who initially questioned the expenses. Mayor Mark Bonrud arrived late and was not at the meeting for the discussion but has supported the project in the past.
Whitman said money to pay for the rest of the project can be taken out of reserves.
In other city business,
•The city is expecting to get a copy soon of an insurance company’s evaluation of the Second Avenue building that has had stone blocks falling off at the alley side of Wind Street. The building’s owner, Jim Zandt of Sioux Falls, has a copy from his insurance provider and has said he will share it with the city.
The engineer’s report is expected to indicate whether the building can be saved and may give the city an idea of whether it needs to continue to barricade the street for safety concerns, said Jeff Pederson, city administrator.
Sutton said timing is important with a summer parade going down the street and a street dance planned for the area as part of Flandreau’s 150th anniversary.
“We’re less than three months out from a major celebration in our community,” he said.
•Police Chief Zach Weber has hired two new officers, both who are fluent in Spanish. Tony Garcia, who previously worked for the Madison Police Department, was hired to be the officer with the police dog. He started April 15. Gabriel Frias, a former Moody County dispatcher, also joined the force and has one year to become certified.
•The waste water treatment system has some days been exceeding capacity by 10 times, Peterson said. The increase in water is the result of the unusual combination of high water levels and snow melt and is not a design or mechanical flaw, he said.
“Our lagoons are full,” he said. “We’ve got a set of circumstances that sort of brought it to a head.”
•Council members approved a request by Scott and Lani Ramsdell to go ahead with a planned residential district west of the city limits. The Ramsdells want to be able to build a third home on the property for their family, Alison Ramsdell and Unger, who left the council meeting before the issue was addressed.
By county ordinance, the council needed to approve the idea because it is within one mile of the city limits. The plan then goes to the county commission for consideration.
•Some residents have asked about a $5,000 pilot project fund to help people with sidewalk repairs. The goal of the program was to enhance mobility in neighborhoods but the repairs also coincide with the community goal of sprucing up Flandreau for the Sesquicentennial celebration this summer.
•The city awarded the concession stand contract for the summer to Vonda Crow and Tom Hansen, who have operated it for years. They will pay the city $423 and were the only bidders.


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