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Cortez Sanitation District switches contractors for alley project

Manager says previous agreement would delay medians
The Cortez Sanitation District directors examine cracked pavement at the town’s waste management plant in 2017 while planning this year’s construction projects.

The Cortez Sanitation District voted Monday to switch contractors for a sewer relining planned to coincide with the city’s Main Street median project.

In addition to installing medians and accessible sidewalk ramps, the city’s $1 million downtown improvement project includes repaving for the alleys adjoining the Elm and Carpenter street intersections. Before the repaving begins, the district plans to reline the sewers that run under the alleys, which were built in the 1950s and are in need of repair. Earlier this year, the district approved a contract with Missouri-based company Insituform, but district Manager Jan Nelson recommended switching to a different bidder after Insituform demanded a construction timeline that would have delayed the alley paving project.

Nelson said the district’s contract with the company specified a 30-day timeline for the relining project, but she had granted the company’s request for a later start with the permission of Cortez Public Works Director Phil Johnson. But when she sent Insituform a notice to proceed, she said, the project manager refused to sign it unless the timeline was stretched to 90 days.

“I said a few more days,” she said. “I did not say 90 days.”

The extra 60 days would force a delay, not only in the sewer project, but in the city’s downtown improvement project, Nelson said. She recommended the district reject Insituform’s bid and contract with another bidder, Layne Inliner, instead.

The board of directors voted unanimously, with President Ryan Griglak absent, to approve the new contract. Nelson said the sewer repairs would begin next week.

During the meeting, the directors also voted to table some changes to the district personnel manual until Griglak could be present to vote on them. Director Jim Candelaria questioned a change that would mandate time off for employees who were victims of domestic violence, calling it unnecessary. The board plans to vote on the changes at its next meeting.

The board also discussed the ongoing search for more members. Nelson said she has received one letter of interest for the two open board positions, but the board is still looking for a second candidate.

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