Change order keeps bump-outs, loses trees

By Per Peterson

The Tracy City Council on Monday approved a change order for Phase 3A-1 to move ahead with bump-outs to “create some walkability” to public spaces and revitalize the downtown area. The new-look downtown area, however, would not include trees, at least for the time being.

“We could do some things in front of the Multi Purpose Center or the library where they can have something out on the corner — a book fair, or we can do breakfast out on the corner,” City Administrator Erik Hansen said of having more sidewalk space at each corner of the downtown area. “It’s that kind of a thing to be able to use that public space to make it more walkable.”

To avoid digging into the intersection of Rowland and 4th twice, the change order will essentially move part of Phase 3A-2 to 3A-1. Councilmember Dave Tiegs approved the motion for the change order — contingent on approval from Rural Development — and it was seconded by council member Kou Thao. The motion carried unanimously.

“We’re just moving it from one construction contract to another,’ said Chris Larson of ISG, the firm overseeing road construction projects in town.

“In the end, it will be a cost savings over the two projects,” Tracy Public Works Director Shane Daniels said.

The EDA last year paid ISG to redesign the project with money that had been budgeted in line items for other potential projects in town that have not yet come to fruition. The Planning Commission approved the plan as written but wanted to incorporate four trees on each side of the street (they were not included in the original design last fall). It was determined, however, that that many trees were not a viable option given the awnings that are present downtown. The trees/landscape would’ve added another estimated $22,500 to the project; for those two reasons, adding trees was not recommended as part of the change order.

“It’s not recommended that we include the trees,” Hansen said. “We wanted you to know it was there because the Planning Commission had mentioned it, but staff is not recommending that we do the trees at this time — it’s something that we could consider down the road … but right now it’s not part of the change order.

The project will include four full bump-outs (at the intersection of 3rd and Morgan) and four half bump-outs (one each in front of the Post Office and Bonnie & Clyde’s, and one each in front of Minnwest Bank and across 3rd St. which is considered a residential area). The half bump-outs would pinch in toward downtown, not on South or Rowland streets.

The council also discussed assessments on businesses at the bump-out sites. Interim Mayor Tony Peterson said he was assured by the Planning Commission that all the businesses at the bump-out sites were in favor of the project.

Peterson, who was on the EDA board when it approved spending money on the design of the project, said that a business that wouldn’t get any additional benefit from a bump-out shouldn’t be paying as much as those getting any benefit.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.