City Commissioners approved the construction contract for the Commercial Street Revitalization project – also known as the mall removal project – during Monday’s regular meeting.
Voting 4-0 with Commissioner J. David Farris absent, the commissioners approved the just more than $1.4 million contract with Kansas Heavy Construction to remove the mall in the 500 and 600 blocks of Commercial Street and replace it with a through street and streetscape similar to the 700-800 blocks. Kansas Heavy’s winning bid came in more than $500,000 under budget, as the project was expected to cost nearly $2 million to complete.
The City is receiving a grant from KDOT for 75% of the expenses, with the city responsible for the remaining 25% of the project. Construction is supposed to begin in January with a targeted completion of early summer.
Commissioners also voted on utility rates and fees for 2021. Water rates will not change for residential customers, while commercial and industrial customers will see their bills increase by 5%. Meanwhile, wastewater rates will go up 1% for all users and the CSO fee will be increased by 2.5% for all users.
Commissioners approved an agreement with Riverbend Habitat for Humanity that will allow them up to $25,000 in reimbursed expenses to help address housing issues in the community. The local Habitat chapter is launching three new programs to help city homeowners who have housing issues but do not have the means to address repairs.
In other business Monday, commissioners approved agreements with United Healthcare, Arthur J. Gallagher, Delta Dental, EyeMed Vision and Mutual of Omaha for benefits for city employees. Health insurance rates will be increasing nearly 30% after a year of high claims, while dental and vision will decrease 5% each.
There was also a $137,982 authorization to address the intersection of Forest Park and Main Street as part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and Evergy that was approved at the previous meeting.
The next regular city commission meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16.