Warren projects to begin soon

WARREN – Construction on the city’s secondary roads and neighborhood streets, and renovation of city-owned buildings are awaiting the early preparations – including waiting for asphalt plants to open, and for architectural reviews of the buildings to be finalized.

City Council passed a $4 million capital improvements bond in 2013 to renovate city-owned properties. It also passed a $2.5 million bond to improve neighborhood and secondary streets that do not qualify for state and federal grants or loans.

Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said residents will see tangible evidence of the city’s investments this spring after the weather becomes consistently warm, and shovels begin to break open streets, sidewalks and parking lots.

The city has yet to put out bids for the street or construction projects. Work on the multi-million dollar projects are expected to take place through the remainder 2014 and in 2015.

“Much of the work is weather-dependent,” Cantalamessa said.

Phillips Sekanick Architects is doing the detailed assessments on city-owned buildings. The architectural firm, along with Baker, Bednar & Associates, are the two firms that did preliminary assessments on the city buildings during discussions with council on whether the bonds should passed.

“What is being done now are detailed reviews of the buildings,” Cantalamessa said. “The architects have been in the central fire station, operations and the municipal building. They still must go through buildings on the city hall complex, the water distribution building and sanitation.

“In addition to the buildings, the capital improvement bond money will be used to pave parking lots at the municipal building, city hall complex, Packard Music Hall and central fire station,” Cantalamessa said.

City officials are expecting the architectural reviews and cost estimates to be completed in early May and the bids for the work to be out shortly afterwards.

“Actual construction likely will not begin until the first weeks in June,” Cantalamessa said.

While officials have a preliminary idea of the streets being targeted with the $2.5 million in bonds approved for road upgrades, they are reviewing the conditions of the streets again to determine what the winter season has done to change previous assessments. In some areas, the winter has created moonscapes of craters that drivers have to carefully dodge or do damage to their vehicles.

“A number of city streets that were in moderate to poor conditions last fall have worsened over this winter, so we are reconsidering putting them higher on the list of streets needing to be repaired and repaved,” Cantalamessa said.

The administration is putting together a plan which will allow it to seek approval for the majority of its road projects, including the money being drawn from the bonds, National Stabilization Program-funded projects, and other state and federal programs as soon as possible.

“We want to present ordinances requiring passage to be sent to council within the next several weeks so we can seek bids to hire contractors and have them prepared to begin to work when the asphalt plants open,” Cantalamessa said. “Generally, the earlier they are negotiate with the asphalt plants, the better the prices we’re able to get.”

The administration is looking at stretching the road improvement bond money by combining it with some Community Development Block Grant funds.

“We may be able to use some Community Development Block Grant money because the money is specifically targeted to low- to moderate-income areas,” Cantalamessa said.

Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at large, suggested the administration find ways to inform city residents when streets will be worked on because there are residents who have expressed concern to council members when they have seen flags placed in front of their yards.

“We can look at placing notices in residences water bills, on the city’s website, as well as in the Tribune,” Rucker said.