The Saratoga Sun -

Bed bid bought

Saratoga council accepts bid to for river bed gravel removal, talks runway renovation, planning commission vacancy

 


At a Jan. 17 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council, mayor Ed Glode revealed long-awaited details of a gravel bar removal operation in the North Platte River upstream of the HWY 130 bridge. Dixon-based Ready Oilfield Service (ROS) won a town contract for the job, offering a price just north of $133,000–a third higher than the $100,000 cost Glode anticipated in November.

Four other contractors offered bids for the work, and three (including ROS) were selected for further interview in the weeks leading up to the announcement of the winner.

None of those other contractors were discussed, or even named at the council meeting. An ad hoc committee of four officials had selected ROS in closed session the week prior and the council formalized that committee’s choice.

Around 15 people turned out for the Jan. 17 meeting.

Job Basics

According to the contract for the river project, ROS will remove approximately 6,225 cubic yards of gravel from the Platte, and work must be done conforming to United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) standards. The dredging operation is slated to begin the first week of February and officials hope it can be finished within two weeks.

“Our set-in-stone end date is March 7,” Glode told the Sun Jan. 13, after the bid had been selected but before the name of the winner was released. “Weather gremlins may pop up in the meantime,” so some leeway has been built into timetables for the job, director of public works Jon Winter added in the same interview.

In past operations, extracted material has been sold to offset work costs, but this time material will be stored at a nearby county yard, where state, county and town officials will be able to use it at their discretion. Sale of the material is not allowed.

Permitting and

Ownership

New council member Steve Wilcoxson said he had done some research indicating cobble in the bars could fetch between $69 and $75 per ton in Fort Collins. Initially, Wilcoxson suggested selling salvaged cobble to help offset the cost of the operation, but Winter convinced him that several factors made that unworkable this time.

First off, Winter said there is an ownership issue. Because the bars lie on lands owned by the State of Wyoming rather than private or town property, the material belongs to State.

The town would also be required to get a mining permit in order to sell any of the extracted material, Winter said. Any mining operation would have to be bonded and feature a full-reclamation plan, Winter expanded.

Satisfying those regulatory requirements could take anywhere from “six months to three to four years,” council member Richard Raymer estimated. “If we’re going to get anything accomplished before spring runoff, this (project) is it,” he said.

Historic Precedent, Ongoing Expenditures

“When I was on the council in 1988, we did have a situation where we allowed the contractor to mine the gravel,” Randy Raymer, councilman Richard Raymer’s father, offered. The elder Raymer said a similar operation in 1997, the last time any dredging was done, was also structured to pay the contractor largely with extracted material.

“Hopefully this is a one time deal and that’s what we move back to,” Glode replied.

The mayor noted snowpack was already high, making any flood-abatement effects the work will have especially important this year.

The project has been permitted as a boating safety operation, and opinions differ on how much impact the removal of the bars will have on future flooding. Council members have framed the work as a way of deepening and narrowing the river channel in a way that could offer significant flood relief. Advocates for a hypothetical grant-funded long-term river improvement project, on the other hand, have been skeptical that removing the bars will be an effective remedy.

The town spent just under $40,000 on sandbagging to guard against high water last year according to Glode. State aid was also significant, bringing the total expenditures on Saratoga flood preparation in 2016 to “plus or minus $800,000,” in Glode’s accounting.

“What are our bright ideas here?” Council member Will Faust asked. “I know we had budgeted some for this, but I know it wasn’t $133,000.”

We’re not cutting another budget, we’re basically spending town reserve,” Glode said.

The council voted 5-0 to approve the contract with ROS.

For council member Richard Raymer, a big take-away from the costliness of the project was, “Don’t wait 20 years to maintain the river.”

Bits and Pieces

A few other topics of interest were also covered at the meeting. Council member Faust read a letter from Nora Asbury expressing interest in filling a vacancy on the planning commission. In her letter, Asbury cited six years living in Saratoga and experience in real estate sales as reasons she would be a good pick. Asbury wrote, “I’m interested in town beautification, town planning and economic development.” The council voted to appoint her to the commission.

Director of public works Jon Winter said some money from a state-funded 2016 weed and pest grant would have to be returned because the town sprayed less than anticipated over the summer. Saratoga will have to give $5,000 of the $13,000 grant back to the state.

From the airport board, Richard Raymer asked the council to approve $7,500 to install lights and security cameras at Shively Field in spring. The airport board secured $67,500 from state grants for the project, so the town will only have to pay 10 percent of the cost. The council voted to fund the project.

The next Saratoga Town Council meeting is 6 p.m. Feb. 7, 2017, in town hall.

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