Dunn Seeking Bids On Road Improvements

Also moving ahead with Tart Park renovation and automated meter reading

The Dunn City Council took the first step toward much needed road improvements by asking for repaving bids.

The road improvements are projected to cost $672,000. There has been $780,000 appropriated in the budget for the work.

The three worst streets were selected and two alternates will be put out to bid. If the bids come in lower, more streets might be added, Dunn City Manager Steve Neuschafer said.

The streets are:

  • Intersection of West Broad Street and North Ellis Avenue
  • Brunswick Drive — 1,240 feet
  • South Washington Avenue — 1,000 feet

The alternates are:

  • North Wilson Avenue — 350 feet
  • East and West Carr Street — 516 feet

The city is raising vehicle registration fees from $5 to $30 in order to raise money to pay for road improvements.

The city does get $300,000 a year in Powell Bill money, but that’s not enough to repave a mile.

Several city council members have said they get more complaints about roads in Dunn than anything else.

Mr. Neuschafer’s strategy for the last fiscal year to pay for some roadwork every year instead of one big project every 10 years and then paying it off, didn’t work. Contractors wouldn’t bid on the $400,000 project last year because it was too small, Mr. Neuschafer said. He believes the project this year is big enough.

In a report from Finance Director Mark Stephens, council members learned the city is short $350,000 in the water and sewer account, but was good in every other area.

The reason the city is short is an unexpected sewer line collapse on Pope Street that had to be repaired.

He also said there was a large customer that wasn’t using as much water. Mr. Neuschafer said that had been going on for almost a year now and it looked like it wouldn’t change. Neither man named the large customer.

However, when asked after the meeting, Mr. Stephens said it was the Food Lion Distribution Center. The water bill there had gone from $14,000 to $15,000 a month to $5,000 or $6,000. Mr. Stephens said he learned trucks were being washed there, but that’s no longer the case. And there were also some changes in the coolant process.

In other business, the council voted to accept Crawford Design as the designer for the Tart Park renovation. The company will perform and execute the project.

Mayor Oscar Harris wanted to know if Crawford was involved in the Tyler Park project. Recreation Director Brian McNeill said the company was not. Council member Chuck Turnage wanted to make sure there is contingency money because the work at Tyler Park exceeded its contingency budget. Mr. Neuschafer said that would be included in the construction bid.

“It just needs some shade out there,” Mr. Turnage said.

All the trees at Tyler Park were cut down during renovation. In the Tart Park project, Mr. McNeill has said in the past some trees may come down, but not all. Plus, more trees will be added.

The park improvement is expected to cost $1.2 million. Part of that will be paid for by a $350,000 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant the city received from the state. The rest will be paid for with an $850,000 20-year loan at an interest rate of 3.5 percent.

The $1.2 million project involves about half of the park and is called phase 1. There have been no decisions on what will take place during phase 2.

In phase 1 four baseball/softball fields will be constructed in a cloverleaf fashion similar to the recently renovated Tyler Park. There will be a new press box and concession stand constructed as well.

Mr. McNeill has said the walking trail will be redone, more trails will be added, as well as weather-resistant fitness stations.

On the land donated to the city by the Bozie Tart family, a multi-purpose field will be added on which soccer will likely be played.

There will also be a disc golf course established throughout the park.

The goal is to have it complete by 2020.

The council also asked Mr. Stephens to file an application with the Local Government Commission to finance the cost of an automated meter reading system.

The cost would be $1.9 million which, according to figures presented by the consultant the town hired, could pay for itself in direct and indirect benefits in less than seven years.

Andy Honeycutt with MeterSYS went before the board last month to report on his latest findings. He is recommending a system in which two connectors on the city’s water tanks would collect meter reading information and relay it to town hall.

It is recommended that the city take on a 15-year loan with an estimated interest rate of 3.75 percent. That’s a payment of $206,000 a year. With direct benefits, such as not needing meter readers or not paying an estimated $60,000 a year to replace 150 broken meters, and indirect benefits, such as cut offs could be done online, Mr. Honeycutt estimated the city would have a cost benefit of $275,825 a year.

As this process begins, customers will be updated throughout by different mediums in which plans are spelled out in easy-to-understand terms. They should be able to check their go live date online.

The council declared the home at 103 E. Bay St. unfit for human habitation.

The homeowners, Huey Gene and Carrie M. Malloy, plan to repair it. They have a year.

Stephen King, chief building inspector, said he acted on a complaint from the tenant. The Malloys are having problems getting to work because the tenant won’t move, Mr. King said. Following the ruling by the city council, “We will have the tenant removed,” Mr. King said.

The council entered into an engineering agreement with Davis, Martin & Powell for planning for sewer line rehabilitation. Mr. Neuschafer said that company was chosen because it has a 40-year history working with Dunn on water and sewer projects.

The Rev. Jerome Pope of Sansom Community Church gave the invocation.