Old city garage coming down
No timeline for demolition bids
By Scott Bellile
A last-minute attempt by New London City Council members to cap the cost to raze the current city garage failed.
The council voted 7-3 to demolish it with no spending limit.
At the council meeting July 12, Second District Alderwoman Mary Tate said she was concerned that Faulks Bros. Construction of Waupaca gave New London a $40,320 estimate to raze the garage located on West Wolf River Avenue while Tom Van Handel Corp. of Appleton provided a $71,784 estimate.
Up for a council vote was a joint recommendation by the parks and recreation committee and board of public works that the city keep the publicly owned lot, demolish the garage and finalize how to use the land later.
Tate proposed an amendment to the motion to put a $40,000 limit on the garage’s future demolition. This would have kept the costs under the Faulk Bros. estimate.
“OK, um, I just want to caution you on that,” New London Mayor Gary Henke replied. “I mean, if the bid comes in $40,000.01, we can’t do it.”
“I don’t think it will,” Tate said. “I’m worried because the [estimates] were so far apart. One was $40,000 and the other was $70,000. There’s got to be a reason.”
Henke speculated the estimates were $31,000 apart because Tom Van Handel wasn’t interested in the job.
Jeff Bodoh, public works director, alternatively said Faulks Bros. factored in demolition only, while Tom Van Handel accounted for additional work.
According to the estimate by Tom Van Handel dated Nov. 5, 2014, utility disconnect would cost approximately $5,000 and asbestos removal $10,000. The latter task won’t happen because an asbestos survey conducted Oct. 13, 2015, found there to be no asbestos in the building. Faulks Bros. omitted asbestos removal in its estimate dated Nov. 20, 2015.
Without asbestos removal or utility disconnect, the Tom Van Handel estimate for only demolition is $56,784.
“One was high, one was low,” City Administrator Kent Hager said of the two estimates to the council. “One included asbestos removal, come to find out there is no asbestos there. And the other one I believe knew that at the time. That’s his low number. They’re just giving us a ballpark as a courtesy to us. They don’t even have to give us those numbers, but we’ve done a lot of work with them and they gave us some numbers to help you make the decision.”
First District Alderman John Faucher said the proposed amendment concerned him because the estimates were old enough that the actual cost may already be higher.
“I would hate to be held to [$40,000] and then have our hands tied over one cent or something,” Faucher said.
“I mean it could be $100, it could be, you know, $4,200,” Henke said. “Then we have to go through all this again. In the meantime, there the building sits in limbo.”
The cost won’t decrease with time, Henke said. Because no bids have gone out, the council can still nix its demolition plans or come up with a new plan if the bids come in way higher than expected, he said.
New London Utilities General Manager Steve Thompson told council members the street department isn’t expected to relocate to the new city garage until construction finishes in October, and items may not be fully moved to there until after the winter.
“You have plenty of time to do the logistics of getting bids and doing all that stuff,” Thompson said. “Right now your decision is tear it down or not. Don’t complicate it by any more than that because you’re going to need the facility until spring regardless.”
Tate’s proposed amendment failed 7-3. She, First District Alderman Robert Besaw and Second District Alderman Tom O’Connell voted in support of it. Then the three voted against the motion the council passed to demolish the garage.
The parks and recreation committee, board of public works and city council must eventually determine what to do with the property. The committees rejected an offer by King Storage to purchase it and convert it to storage units.
The proposals so far include selling the lot to a housing developer or making it part of Riverside Park with options for grass, a parking lot for people boating or fishing on the Wolf River and/or a boat launch.
New London resident Dave Nolan urged the council before its vote to consider park space, saying it could bring in revenue.
“At the end of our day, protecting our natural resources, continuing to invest in park and recreations is a wonderful distinguishing characteristic that will separate us from many of the cities in the Fox Valley,” Nolan said.
The future $3.3 million city garage is under construction a block west of the current one on West Wolf River Avenue.