Among the numerous projects underway in Tawas City, is the removal of debris from Dead Creek. Some of the fallen trees are shown here, near the end of Twelfth Avenue, and there are three different areas of the creek that will be cleared up. With the Iosco Conservation District having secured a grant to help fund this work, the city’s share of the project cost is 25 percent.

TAWAS CITY – Tawas City has had quite a few irons in the fire as of late, and they are continuing to check off a number of projects on their list.

Dead Creek Debris Removal

Council members discussed these efforts, which include a debris removal project for Dead Creek, when they met on Sept. 8.

City Manager Annge Horning said the Iosco Conservation District (ICD) sought proposals for the work, and has approved a contract with Jacques Timber, LLC.

The ICD is the administrator of the grant that will be used to complete the project, for which Tawas City will be responsible for 25 percent of the cost.

“The City’s share would be $7,522.50 and includes removal of a large logjam near the cemetery and another near the end of Twelfth Avenue,” Horning stated.

She said a third property is included in the project, which is privately owned. The ICD has asked the city to work with the resident to collect her share of the contract, which would be $1,202.50, in order to wrap up the grant process and move forward. In other words, Tawas City will pay $8,725 up front, then collect the $1,202.50 separately from the resident.

“She is in agreement with doing that and making payments to us,” said Horning, noting that this is contingent upon council approval, and that the city will draft an agreement to this effect.

She said the resident will pay what she can afford, when she can do it. Whatever is not paid by May 1, 2021, will be placed on her summer property taxes.

Horning added that the woman’s share was originally $1,700, but she obtained a grant from a separate entity to drop this down.

“So, the total bid must have been about $30,000,” said Mayor Ken Cook, which Horning confirmed.

She also advised that the contractor would like to begin the work immediately.

Councilwoman Jackie Masich moved to approve the city’s share of the cost, to collect the money from the private property owner and to move ahead with the project being awarded to Jacques Timber. The motion passed unanimously.

As recently reported, officials first addressed this topic at their July 20 meeting, where they were presented with estimated figures for the work. They voted to proceed with the grant and to let the involved parties know that they are in support of the project and willing to contribute 25 percent.

Horning said she had been working with the ICD, as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Service through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to obtain a grant to help with the debris removal in Dead Creek.

Along with already high water levels, this came about as a result of the storm and flooding event in May, which caused damage throughout the community – including the pile-up of large trees and logs in Dead Creek.

Horning said she feels that this is a worthwhile project and expenditure to clean up the debris and prevent the possible future buildup near, and damage to, the bridge on Sixth Avenue. If the bridge were damaged and to be replaced, Link Engineering estimates that it would cost more than $1.4 million.

The city has a host of different tasks to complete and Cook said that, while this is another expense, the debris has to be removed and this can’t be avoided.

Masich agreed, pointing out that the storm was an unexpected event which the council obviously couldn’t have budgeted for beforehand. To leave the debris would only increase the risk of a bigger hazard, if something happens in the future.

She said it would be responsible of the city to do something now, especially when 75 percent of the work is being covered with a grant.

Pier Rehabilitation

In separate action, the council cast a 7-0 vote authorizing Horning to sign documents on the municipality’s behalf, associated with the pier rehabilitation project at Tawas City Shoreline Park.

For this work, officials recently awarded a $4,754,168 bid to Great Lakes Dock & Materials, LLC of Muskegon.

Since a large chunk of the project is being funded by a grant, Horning said the council needs to show their approval along the way, including their official authorization for her to execute the necessary documents.

She said the pier project is all lined up and ready to go and, with the aforementioned approval, she would be signing the Notice to Proceed paperwork the next day.

As reported, a subcommittee of the council has been working with the company and the engineer on potential alternatives to reduce the cost. Without any reductions, the project is currently about $800,000 over budget.

With COVID-19 setbacks and other factors, the bids for all of the latest projects being pursued by the city have come in higher than anticipated.

But Horning reminded the council that – even without any change orders with Great Lakes Dock & Materials – 75 percent of the construction will be covered.

The city was awarded $3,589,949 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the pier work, which will expand and enhance the existing structure.

Horning also noted that the preliminary costs were from about two years ago so, with inflation, this isn’t too far off.

As previously noted, the pier is unsafe, has fallen into disrepair and is in need of significant restoration. According to Foth Infrastructure & Environment, the pier was built in multiple phases in the mid-1900s. The last major work completed on the structure was in the 1970s.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation says that the project will rehabilitate the dilapidated pier, allowing for safer fishing and viewing. The expansion will create new docking sites for boaters and will also make any future pier development easier. The stabilization and extension of the structure will make this site a safe, public access point for the community and will transform the existing shoreline into an asset for residents and visitors.

Water Main Project

In other project matters, Horning advised that the Sixth Avenue water main work is underway.

As recently reported, officials awarded the project bid – with two lump sum bid prices of $376,445 and $19,980 – to Schaaf & Associates Construction, Inc., of East Tawas.

According to Russo Engineering, Inc., the work will include about 1,100 feet of new water main and 180 feet of sewer along Sixth Avenue, from Second to Mathews Street. There is also a block on Whittemore Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, which will involve just water.

The smaller bid figure is for a fire hydrant replacement on the corner of Cedar and Oak streets.

Building Demolitions

In separate updates, Horning said that Bierlein Companies, Inc. of Midland is all set to go with demolishing the former Tawas Bar, at 545 W. Lake St. (US-23), and the neighboring former Tawas Bay Family Practice building.

“They sent somebody up to do an asbestos inspection, and right now we’re just waiting on DTE to cut and cap the gas to the doctor’s office,” she said. “So, everything’s moving on schedule right now.”

It was at their Aug. 17 meeting when the council voted 7-0 for Bierlein to raze the structures – at a cost of $28,200 for the bar building, and $23,800 for the doctor’s office.

The city acquired these properties with the goal to expand the adjacent Shoreline Park and Town Square.

Demolition bids were requested from eight contractors, with the work to be completed by Oct. 31.

Mathews Street Bridge

Of all the ongoing projects, one undertaking that will be pushed back a bit is the work to the Mathews Street bridge.

Those from John Henry Excavating, Inc. of East Tawas requested that the deadline be extended to May 14, 2021, which was unanimously approved by the council.

Horning said she has confirmed that the extension will not increase the contract cost, and that John Henry Excavating will honor  the original price.

She added that neither she nor the city’s Department of Public Works Director, Gus Oliver, have any concerns with the extension, and they feel it is necessary.

Horning said the request seems to be yet another consequence of COVID-19 and the closure of many businesses. With some of the materials the company has to order, and the suppliers they are dealing with, everybody is a little behind schedule and John Henry is not certain that they could have the bridge re-paved by mid-November. “If everything comes in, there is a chance they could do it yet this fall, but they just want to make sure they’re covered and not in violation of their contract.”

“With this very unusual construction season, something none of us have ever experienced, our schedules have been compressed even further,” stated John Henry Jr., in a memo to Horning.

“Manpower shortages and material delays have all affected our projects and this upcoming one is not exempt,” he continued. “Our bridge specific crew is unavailable till mid-October based on a whole season of multiple delays that were all out of our control.”

Henry Jr. added that both of the local subcontractors have expressed concern about doing the asphalt paving and concrete work in November. “It is our intent to have the work performed in the best possible conditions to ensure the quality we all expect.”

He also stated that no one wants to drag this project out with barricades and partially completed work left for any duration of time.

This was echoed by Cook, who said that the council has already discussed paving late into the season, for some of the other projects going on – such as the parking lot work in Gateway Park that they approved last month.

He agreed that he doesn’t want to get into a situation where everything is torn apart and then not able to be paved/finished.

Henry Jr. further pointed out that the extension would allow ample time to procure all the materials required, begin work early in the spring and have all the temperature/weather related subcontractor work performed in the best conditions possible.

As recently reported, bids for this project were due on June 24, and there were two responses – one from John Henry in the amount of $199,520, and one from MacArthur Construction Company, Hillman, for $230,593.

Horning reminded the council that the total budget this fiscal year for both the Mathews Street and First Street bridge projects is $255,000.

She said that when the First Street bridge project is bid in the spring, officials will have a better idea of their financial position with the Act 51 payments, and the council can determine if they want to move forward with this project.

For the past several years, the council has been setting aside $65,000 annually for such work. It was last August when they approved an expanded set of improvements to the Mathews Street and First Street bridges.

These are among the four timber structures in the city which span Tawas River – along with the Whittemore Street and Sixth Avenue bridges – and all are in need of repairs. Given both the condition and the heavier traffic flows on the Matthews Street and First Street structures, officials opted to concentrate on these two first.

Shoreline Protection

In separate business, Horning said that Oliver spoke with several contractors about the proposals for shoreline protection along Town Square and Gateway Park.

“Some shared with him that the reason they didn’t provide a proposal when we asked for them for just Town Square was because they would prefer to bid on a design that has already been developed by us,” Horning said. “We have asked Russo Engineering to help us put one together; we will make contact with each of the contractors again after it is complete.”

It was on Aug. 17 when the council went over the proposals they sought for the design and construction of 385 lineal feet of shoreline protection along 513-545 W. Lake St. This involves the area in Shoreline Park, from Town Square to the former bar property.

Horning said the state has advised that the city does not have to restore the damage at Gateway Park to its prior condition. They are okay with the city protecting what it has there right now, and then bringing in armour stone or whatever may be needed to protect the shoreline.

Since only one proposal was received for this work at Town Square, Horning asked the council to consider requesting bids on the two projects combined and giving the contractors until next spring to complete it, which they approved.