Plans have been put on hold for the Highway 69 and First Street intersection improvement project in Huxley.

The project will widen the east side of the highway to allow for turning lanes to be added. Traffic lights will also be added as part of the improvements.

During the Huxley City Council meeting June 25, City Engineer Gabe Nelson said Con-Struct was the only company who submitted a bid for the project, and it was $50,000 over the engineer’s estimated cost of the project. The reason for the lack of bidders, Nelson said, is because the late snowfall in May and rainy weather has caused construction companies to fall behind on projects.

"No one had the capacity to do it," Nelson said.

One aspect of the project is during construction, one weekend would be spent doing overnight work. Councilwoman Tracey Roberts said she had heard this contributed to the higher bid. Nelson said Con-Struct did comment how things might get "hairy" that weekend, but that was not a reason for the higher bid. It was the lack of competition from other bidders that led to the high bid price, along with the lack of time to complete the project due to other project committments, he said.

As a result of the poor bid turnout, Nelson recommended the council reject the bid from Con-Struct and rebid the project at a later date.

Mayor Craig Henry asked how soon they would be able to get the project rebid. Nelson said it could be 60 days or longer before a rebid could be done. If the city rebids it any sooner, changes would need to be made to the project in order to attract more bidders. Nelson said the latest he anticipates a rebid is this winter, with construction to take place next spring.

Part of the funding for the estimated $493,000 project will come from an Urban-State Traffic Engineering Program (U-STEP) grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation. Nelson said holding off on accepting a bid for the project will not prevent the city from receiving the grant. The grant will fund $200,000 of the project and the city will be responsible for the remaining amount.

The council voted 4-1 to reject the bid and direct staff to proceed for a rebid of the project. Roberts was in opposition.

Habitat for Humanity home in Prairie Ridge

A presentation was given during the council meeting about a Habitat for Humanity home that will be constructed on lot 36 of Huxley’s Prairie Ridge development. Jim Shelledy, project manager for the home, gave the presentation and said a family from Story County has been chosen to live in the home once it is built.

It was expressed by Habitat for Humanity representatives at a previous meeting that Habitat homes typically exceed the 1,008-square footage limit set for homes in the Prairie Ridge development. Shelledy said they were able to design the home so it would meet the development’s size limits.

While he is not sure what the construction schedule will be for the house, he hopes to have the structure enclosed before it gets cold, and have the family moved in by the first of the year.

"We’re really looking forward to doing it and we’re excited," Shelledy said.

Habitat representatives soon will begin lining up volunteers to help build the home. Any individuals or organizations who would like to volunteer can contact the Habitat office in Ames by calling 515-232-8815.

Originally, there were supposed to be two Habitat homes built in the development. Shelledy said he does not know what the plans are for a second home and a client list has not been established.

Ames Economic Development Council contract renewed

Also on the agenda was the renewal of the city’s contract with the Ames Economic Development Council (AEDC). Council members unanimously agreed to renew the contract for a third year in a row and pay the annual fee of $25,000.

City Administrator John Haldeman said through the city’s involvement with the AEDC, they’ve "had a lot of activity with businesses" coming to look at the city. He said a couple businesses are currently considering opening in Huxley, and the city hopes at least one of those businesses will follow through.

"We’ve had a good relationship with the AEDC and we recommend continuing the contract for one year," Haldeman said.

Councilman Mark Baker said he is willing to continue the city’s involvement with the AEDC for one more year, but this will be the last time he supports the contract.

"Seventy-five thousand and zero is not a good record," Baker said, referring to the amount the city will have paid the AEDC after this third-year contract and the lack of businesses that have come to Huxley as a result of the contract. "At some point you have to justify the cost you’re putting into it."

Haldeman said BioForge Labs came to Huxley as a result of the AEDC, but that was before the contract was set up intially.

"We’re the closest we’ve been anytime before the contract," Haldeman said of getting businesses to come to town.