By Tim Cox
Celina city officials now have a firmer handle on financing the proposed West Bank walkway, but some wonder how the project would be paid for if costs come in higher than expected.
City officials plan to pay for the walkway with a $250,000 grant from the state and a $150,000 donation over 10 years from the Celina Rotary Club. The remaining balance would be retired over 20 years or so with revenue from a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district set up in the West Bank corridor.
But some members of city council's personnel and finance committee wondered what would happen if the current $1.75 million construction estimate is greatly exceeded.
"How far are we going to go if the costs are higher?" council member June Scott asked.
Council member Chris Mohler suggested if city officials really want the walkway, they will find a way to do it, even if costs come in a little high. Waiting to do the project further in the future isn't going to bring down the price, he said. About $1.5 million would be borrowed through general obligation or revenue sharing bonds. The debt would be repaid with the estimated $125,000 in annual revenue generated by the TIF district. That is more than enough to make the estimated $110,000 annual payments.
The project calls for filling in about 20 feet of the lake along the 1-mile stretch between the Rotary lighthouse and the state boat ramp. The new path would be about 12 feet of concrete pavement and 12 feet of grass. To get around the spillway basin, the existing sidewalk would be rebuilt. Closer to the lighthouse, the small bluegreen building over the city's water intake pipe would be removed to make room for the path. Hatch doors built into the path would allow workers access to the water intake equipment.
Just the path represents the $1.75 million estimated base project. City officials also plan to seek some alternate bids on decorative street lighting and the resurfacing of West Bank Road.
The lights are estimated to cost $200,000. The road resurfacing is estimated to cost $220,000, which includes milling away three inches of existing asphalt and repaving the strip, not complete reconstruction of the road surface.
Council member Denny Smith said the street project is critical, especially if it is going to run next to a beautiful new pathway. Smith asked Kent Bryan, the city's community development consultant, to look into other possible ways to pay for the West Bank Road improvements.
Also, as part of the project, city officials will be responsible for mitigating the 3-plus acres of lake water they will be reclaiming as land for the path project. Bryan suggested city officials look at acquiring land along the Coldwater Creek for a mitigation project. Sediment filters could be set up along the creek to keep topsoil from reaching the lake.
If local governments could stop sediment from reaching the lake, state officials could finally make progress dredging the lake bottom, Bryan said. There is about four to six feet of water in most places in the lake but another 10 to 15 feet of muck, Bryan said.
Final engineering for the walkway project is nearly completed and construction bids could be sought yet this year.
In other business, committee members met briefly in executive session to discuss a personnel issue involving potential litigation. Committee members would not elaborate on the purpose for the private meeting but Celina Municipal Employee Relations Committee head Kerry Duncan was invited into the meeting.