Engineering firm contract approved

Preparing blueprints and design specifications. Setting up bids for prospective construction companies.

These are some of the jobs the city will pay $69,580 to Larson Design Group to do as it performs engineering services for projects associated with infrastructure around Memorial Homes, a 72-unit multi-family housing complex under construction.

City Council approved the contract Thursday with the engineering company as Memorial Homes, 1609 Memorial Ave., is built. The housing starts with construction of 40 apartments. That’s expected to take a year, followed by construction of 32 townhouses. All of it at the former Brodart warehouse.

The warehouse was demolished, cleaned of any environmental hazards and is becoming the multi-family housing complex, to include two single-family dwellings to be built by Greater Habitat for Humanity.

The engineering work is for off-site improvements, such as adding curbs, repairing sidewalks, planting ornamental shade trees and installing better and more streetlights, said John Grado, city engineer and city director of community and economic development.

It’s for work on Beeber and Oliver streets and at the intersection of these streets, Grado said. It’s also for off-site work along Memorial Avenue, he said.

Councilman Randall J. Allison said the transformation of the vacant warehouse into the housing and the reinvestment in the neighborhood should pay dividends.

Councilwoman Liz Miele said reinvestment by the county and city using natural gas impact fees, state grants and community development block grants administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and spent by the city will help to reconnect the neighbors with each other and with Memorial Park nearby.

The park’s pool, which has been closed for three years, is to be reconstructed and rebuilt this fall, with a planned reopening in the spring 2015.

It has everyone on council anticipating a revived neighborhood and more use of the city-owned park.

Council also approved Larson Design Group’s contract for any other projects in which community development block grant money is used, Grado said.

In other action, council:

* Approved a contract between the city and the county in conjunction with River Valley Transit’s use of federal funds for projects to ensure the transit system follows handicapped accessibility requirements and prepares federal documentation. William E. Nichols Jr., general manager of River Valley Transit, said this is needed each year as the county receives federal transportation funding that flows to the city and RVT for transit purposes.