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Winslow Way reconstruction pushed back one year

The City Council Wednesday unanimously decided to delay the reconstruction of Winslow Way for one year, into 2011.

"It is with a heavy heart that we're doing this, but the economic times and what's going on with the Ratepayer Alliance are doing this to us," said former Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

Chris Wierzbicki, who manages the project for the city, said in discussions with representatives of both the federal and state grants involved in the project that both should be able to be moved to 2011, though he has received no written confirmation on the state grant.

The local improvement district, which would contribute $1 million to the project, has a public hearing coming up within the next month. Should the LID be formed in the next few weeks, it won't be an issue, Wierzbicki said, because the LID is good for 18 months.

The city's effort to secure the final funding for the Winslow Way project has been bogged down since the filing of the Bainbridge Ratepayer Alliance in April. Though it wasn't the aim of the suit to impact the Winslow Way project, the lawsuit has prevented the city from obtaining loans or bonds for the project.

Councilor Barry Peters said representatives on both sides worked tirelessly to invent a solution to the lawsuit, but those efforts have been unsuccessful so far.

"There is only one reason we're moving the project out a year. Even though there has been a remarkable good faith effort between a lot of good people at the city and a lot of good people in the Ratepayers Alliance, that effort was not enough to settle on the appeal," Peters said.

Some of the councilors expressed concerns that executing the project in 2011 would drive up the cost because the bargain prices for contractors would be gone by that point.

Wierzbicki said the combination of available funds that could rollover and the state grant, which is good for 28.9 percent of the project up to $3.5 million, should offset the possibility of increased costs.

Peters urged the administration to use what has happened with the project as a lesson for the next time. He found it imperative to secure bonding in 2010 before the project begins. Currently, the state grant is worth $2.04 million.

The Capital Improvement Plan, which the council debated at the same meeting, showed a total expenditure of $7,532,314 on the project in 2010. On the tax supported side, the city was slated to spend $5,290,698, with all but the $1 million from the LID coming from the two grants. From the sewer fund, the city sought a bond of $1,011,745. From the stormwater utility, a total of $366,349 would have been contributed, with all but $75,000 coming from the federal grant. The majority of the money contributed by the city ($863,522) for 2010 would have come from the water utility.

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