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City moving forward with new buildings

Batesville’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen were scheduled to discuss the bids received in late June for the construction of two new buildings on Van Voris St. after the quotes received were much more than anticipated.

Public Works director David Karr has overseen most of the project, working closely with city engineers, architects, and department heads for about a year to plan for the construction of a new fire station and public works building on the north side of Van Voris, and a public works shop building and storage areas for the south side.

Karr had hoped to have the buildings constructed for about $3.75 million – using bond money approved late last year – but the 11 contractors who submitted bids were mostly in that range for the main north side building only.

On the south side, which is to be for assistant department head offices, enclosed work areas, and storage spaces, the bids ranged from $1.3 to $1.8 million. Karr said he expects the city board to make some alterations, perhaps using city labor to complete most of the work on the shop building to overcome the additional funds that will apparently be required.

Karr said a combination of wariness among contractors about building supply costs and the fact that most building firms are already busy with ongoing work resulted in the higher than expected bids. The city proceeded with its original plans, though, despite the higher bids, and last week took the renderings provided by architects to the Planning Commission for site and design approval.

The major part of the project is a four-bay fire station to service west Batesville and administrative offices for all facets of public works in the city. The gas, water, sewer, street, and parks will all have offices in the central location.

The fire department will be the new Station No. 1 and the outdated building behind city hall that currently serves as Station No. 1 will be used for storage. Other buildings in the city hall area may be razed for new parking lots.

When city officials first discussed the need for a new fire station to cover the west part of Batesville, and the need for all departments to be centrally located, some suggested a complete municipal structure that would include a new city hall. That idea gained little traction, though, because some aldermen wanted to keep city hall in the downtown area, fearing that moving the two blocks away would further reduce traffic to the Square.

On Van Voris, demolition of some buildings has already begun by city crews, and the officials must next decide where to move the trash bins and recyclable materials bins to make room for the new public works building.

As of early this week aldermen were still looking for a suitable location to move the bins that would be easily accessible to citizens. If the city can’t find a place for the bins, the service will likely not be offered for a few months, and citizens will have to use the county dump on McNeely Rd. in Courtland for dumping.

Cutlines:   The City of Batesville will soon start construction of a new public works building including a four-bay fire station on the north side of Van Voris St. and a public works shop on the south side. Bids for the projects have been about $600,000 more than aldermen expected. (File)