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12:08 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

City looks to scale back street projects

City: ‘Right-sizing’ will allow more projects

Many of the features on Alarcon Street, shown here last summer, will likely not be continued as the city looks to scale down costs for other projects. (Ken Sain/Courier file)

Many of the features on Alarcon Street, shown here last summer, will likely not be continued as the city looks to scale down costs for other projects. (Ken Sain/Courier file)

Extensive underground drainage work, decorative colored concrete, and new trees could be among the components that will go away in coming City of Prescott street projects.

Under an extensive “right-sizing” movement going on in the Public Works Department, the city is looking to trim some of the costly features that were designed into a number of downtown-area street projects.

One expected result: The ability to get more of the long-promised projects done in a timely manner.

The Prescott City Council heard a report from Public Works officials on Tuesday, Dec. 19, on the “right-sizing” effort that has been underway in recent months.

The effort received a largely positive review from council members and from City Manager Michael Lamar, who has questioned the need for expensive underground drainage improvements on the downtown projects.

Lamar pointed to the 15-percent overall savings that the city has estimated through the right-sizing efforts on the coming Goodwin Street reconstruction.

By scaling back the drainage improvements on Goodwin, Public Works has cut the total cost of the project from $5.7 million to $4.85 million.

“When you look at a 15-percent reduction on a $5.7 million project, that’s significant money,” Lamar said.

He maintained that the savings could go toward other projects that the city has pushed off in the past because of funding issues. ”We’re battling citizen expectations on a lot of work that should have been done two or three years ago,” Lamar said.

Councilman Steve Blair also raised issues about past projects that he said may have focused too much on aesthetics.

“One thing I have struggles with is the fact that I think we over designed some of these projects,” Blair said, maintaining that “maybe it was somebody’s opinion that it would look pretty, but we don’t need to spend money on pretty.”

Rather, Blair supported the move toward “right-sizing it, and getting input on whether we’re doing too much.” Referring to the recent improvements on Alarcon Street, he added, “Alarcon may have been too much. I think we need to just change some things that we’re doing, but I think you’re on the right track.”

Steve Orosz, program development manager with Public Works, listed nine downtown-area projects that are in various stages of design.

Two of those improvements — the long-awaited Bashford Courts parking lot and alley, and the Willis/Cortez intersection reconstruction – are scheduled to go out for bid in the next two weeks, Orosz said, but on a scaled-back basis.

On the Bashford Courts project, for instance, Orosz said the city had removed the planned colored concrete, as well as some of the landscaped trees.

“We have applied the right-sizing concept to this, and we have taken out some items,” Orosz said of the parking lot reconstruction.

Other reconstructions on the list of pending projects included: Robinson Drive, 90-percent designed; Penn-Eastwood, 90-percent designed; Summit/Beach/McCormick, 60-percent designed; North Washington/Churchill, 60-percent designed; South Washington/East Goodwin, 60-percent designed; Goodwin Street, 30-percent designed; and Carleton/Alarcon, 15-percent designed.

Lamar asked the Public Works Department whether all of the projects that are currently at a 60-percent-or-more design status could be “on the street” by the end of the fiscal year (June 30).

Orosz responded: “The short answer is yes we can.” But, he said, the city could have some manpower issues to work through.

In addition, Orosz said, “It also may be very impactful to the public to have all this torn up at the same time. We’d like to deliver the projects, definitely, but in some logical sequence that minimizes the disruption to the public.”

New City Councilman Phil Goode pushed for action on the projects.

“Looking at the last several years, it was pretty clear to me there was adequate funding, but apparently there was some chronic inability to deliver on these projects,” Goode said. “It seemed like there was always about $30 million left in these funds, but (the city) couldn’t deliver in a timely manner.”

Public Works Director Craig Dotseth said the right-sizing effort should help the department to complete more projects. “When we reduce the overall cost of each one of them, it allows us to stay on track with the timing,” he told the council.

The update took place during a study session, and no official council action occurred.