BICKNELL — Several weeks after opening bids for the walking track repaving project at South Side park, city officials here have decided to start over.

Board of Works members opened three preliminary quotes for the work in mid-December. Huey Excavating of Sandborn submitted a quote for $33,000, Bicknell-based Kerns Excavating had a quote for $51,000, and Milestone Contractors of Bloomington provided a $54,000 quote.

The lowest bid was looking to be the frontrunner, but Mayor Thomas Estabrook said this week that officials found out there might be a problem with that bid.

“The lowest bid had problems with his asphalt subcontractor and that was not going to work out for him like he initially thought,” Estabrook said of Huey Excavating's bid.

Due to those circumstances and the fact that the other two quotes were much higher in price, the board decided to reject all three bids and start over.

Estabrook said he and engineer John Sprague will work together on the project specifications to “see how we want to work that out.”

“We do still plan to push forward with this,” the mayor said. “We're just trying to make sure we get it done the best way we can.”

The track at South Side was first paved in the 1980s and it has held up pretty well. But officials say there's a need for an upgrade that would entail a complete reconstruction of the track; the current asphalt would come out, contractors would put down rock sub-grade with new asphalt laid on top of it.

The board also on Monday renewed agreements with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority's Blight Elimination Program that allows the city to spend the remainder of the grant money it received from the state.

During former Mayor Jon Flickinger's term, Bicknell was awarded a $415,000 grant that was used to raze 17 blighted houses. In January of last year, the city was awarded another $215,000 to tackle a fresh set of houses.

That pool of money swelled when officials found out in May that there was still $125,000 leftover from the first round of blighted-home demolitions. The state told the city it could spend the remaining funds if it could get more properties folded into the program.

“We are closer to getting all the properties we need in place,” Estabrook reported this week, noting that officials are working on securing purchase agreements for several abandoned houses. “So hopefully by the time we're doing roads this year, we're doing houses, too.”

Estabrook also noted that the board authorized the sale of obsolete vehicles, mostly patrol cars that city police don't need anymore as well as some old city trucks.

Officials are seeking sealed bids from anyone interested in purchasing them. Board members will open bids on Jan. 12.

CITY COUNCIL

There wasn't much new business to come before the city council this week.

Estabrook said the conversation continues about how to add a new fire truck to the city's fleet. Fire chief Tom Houghland presented information about companies he's been talking with and their proposed models, and Estabrook hopes he and Houghland will soon have the list narrowed down to what equipment they want and what the approximate price might be.

Estabrook could then present that information to the council and figure out the best way to finance the new addition.

“Hopefully we'll be a bit closer come the February meeting,” the mayor said.

Another conversation that's continuing, Estabrook said, focuses on the idea of rolling full-time, non-police city employees into the state's Public Employees' Retirement Fund program.

A lot of “good, positive conversation” has been generated among city employees regarding when they'd be able to access money, what the city's contribution would be and what all this might mean for employees' paychecks, Estabrook said.

“PERF will have their actuarial survey done in February. Between now and the end of May, we have to make a decision on entering PERF so we can begin on July 1,” Estabrook said. “I was pleased with where the conversation went.

“Other than our police officers, there's never been a retirement plan for our full-time employees and that's something we really hope to change.”

In other council news, Butch Byrer was re-elected council president.

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