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Council rejects first Rivercane bid

By By Adam Prestridge
It will be a few more weeks before bulldozers crank up on the newly announced Rivercane industrial project site.
Monday, the Atmore city council declined the only bid received for Phase 1 of the project after it exceeded the city's engineering firm, Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc.'s, projected construction estimate by more than $1.5 million.
"That is greatly over the engineer's estimated price of construction," Atmore Mayor Howard Shell said.
The project went out for bids several weeks ago and 14 contractors picked up copies of the bid plans. Only one submitted a bid for $4,120,000, which was extremely greater than the estimated $2.6 million set aside for construction.
"The recommendation to the City of Atmore is to decline this bid and we're going to re-bid the project," Shell said. "They (Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood) have talked to a number of contractors that have plans, but were unable to bid. They've had a number of calls interested and feel like we'll get some very good bids should we go out to bid again."
Shell said even though the setback is a bit of a let down, he believes it will work out for the best interest of the city.
"We were disappointed, but we feel after we modify and then review the possibility of adding Hwy. 21 construction on to the bid that we will be able to get more firms interested in it and bid on the project the second time around."
Shell said the Atmore Industrial Development Board is proposing to add the Hwy. 21 project, which includes adding turn lanes, to the initial bid proposal in hopes of attracting more contractors.
New Sign Ordinance
The council unanimously approved the city's new sign ordinance following a roll call vote. The ordinance is simply a revision of the sign ordinance that was in place, but clarifies several points that concerned the city's attorney.
"It's a clarification of things in the original ordinances that were vague that the attorney's had questions about," Atmore code enforcement official Allen Nix said. "There are no differences. The intent, the meaning and sizes, nothing has changed."
All current billboards within the city limits have been grandfathered in. The ordinance spells out that no other billboards can be placed in the city limits from the Florida state line to Escambia County Middle School and from the Escambia County courthouse annex to the National Guard Armory. The ordinance also makes it clearer that once a billboard is more than 50 percent deteriorated or destroyed they can't be put back up.
"Once they are gone, they are gone," Nix said. "That's the same way it was before."
EWP Project
The council also agreed to Crowder-Gulf's bid of $109,280 to clean out the city's ditches and improve drainage.
The project, which is an Emergency Watershed Protection project funded by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), allows for $107,413 in funding.
"Basically it's cleaning up some of the existing ditches," Engineer Paul Darnell said. "Getting debris out of them and getting a little bit of silt out of the bottom so they'll drain a little better."
Work will be done on both dirt ditches and concrete ditches scattered throughout town. Two-thirds of the project is clearing out dirt ditches.
"It's more debris removal than anything else, but in some of the northern sections there is some debris and silt removal necessary in the concrete ditches," Darnell said.
In other business, the council:
"This is a resolution saying that we will comply with all the rules and regulations on the behalf of the Utilities Board," Shell said.