(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Corunna City Council accepted a $1.1 million bid on Monday, July 1 from VanDamme Trucking, Inc. of Gwinn, MI, located in the Upper Peninsula, to remove the city’s dam and upgrade adjoining Heritage Park. The city had received a bid of $3.3 million for the project earlier this year from E.T. MacKenzie of Grand Ledge, prompting a second round of bidding.
The dam has impeded travel for the river’s aquatic animals for more than a century, and its removal will help restore the river to its natural state and open up the tributary for the fish and other river creatures to travel further upstream, which should improve the quality of fishing, according to GEI Consultants engineer Sam Prentice.
The city has obtained more than $800,000 in grants to fund the project, which is expected to cost just more than $1.4 million including engineering work, dam removal, river enhancements and Heritage Park improvements. City Manager Joe Sawyer expects the city to spend approximately $600,000 in total to complete the project, $250,000 of which has already been contributed for engineering costs and matching grant funding.
The city is, however, still working to close a funding gap of roughly $110,000 by reducing the scope and/or removing some small portions of the project, which could then be done in-house or be bid locally. Such items include parking lot and sidewalk paving and the construction of a viewing/fishing platform.
Provided city officials find some creative ways to lower the total project cost, through finding more cost-effective local bidders or removing small portions of the project, the city hopes to begin removal of the dam this year.
Sawyer also noted that the city currently maintains a fund equity near 30 percent, so it is possible the city will be able to cover some small additional project costs, as long as the project is free of any major cost overruns. The city is also continuing to seek additional grant funding.