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Council OKs Rivercane bid

By By Adam Prestridge
It is said that good things come to those who wait.
For the City of Atmore, waiting nearly four years following the acquisition of 643 acres of prime property at Interstate 65, now known as Rivercane, has finally paid off following the approval of the sites Phase 1 bid.
"We've worked a long time to get to this point from the time we were able to purchase the property to working with the engineers to develop a master plan for the site, as well as working with the Industrial Development Board, council and all the other committees involved," Mayor Howard Shell said. "It is really gratifying that we are able to see some dirt being moved and we feel it's the beginning of a very exciting time for the City of Atmore."
A special meeting of the Atmore Industrial Development Board was called Thursday morning to discuss the approval of S.A. Graham's bid of $4.5 million for construction of roads, water, sewer, a lake and two entrances into Rivercane, as well as, work on Hwy. 21 including widening the road and adding turn lanes for the two entrances.
The original projection for infrastructure costs when the project was officially announced in late May was between $3.4 million and $3.5 million. In addition, the board projected $600,000 would be needed for work on Hwy. 21. After the first and only bid of $4.12 million was received in early July on a bid package containing only infrastructure work was denied by the council, the project was re-bid and the Hwy. 21 work was added into the bid package.
Even though the S.A. Graham's bid was $1 million over what the board was shooting for, members spent a few minutes discussing several cost cutting measures for upcoming projects referred to as "value engineering" by the city's engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills &Caywood, Inc.
"Goodwyn, Mills has already identified about $300,000 to cut from the budget," chairman Richard Maxwell said.
Some of the "value engineering" examples discussed were shortening the road on the east side of the project and raising the elevation of the sewer system.
Also discussed was decreasing the amount of lighting around the perimeter of the lake to not extend past the gazebo. By doing this, it would prevent vehicles from having to cross over the sidewalk, which would enable the board to change the thickness of the sidewalk from six inches to four inches.
Following the discussion, the board agreed to approve the bid for recommendation to the city council. The council convened directly following the industrial board meeting.
In a matter of minutes, the council approved the recommendation, giving S.A. Graham the go ahead to begin construction.
"We are pleased to be at this point," Maxwell said. "It has taken a little bit of time to get here, but we are excited about having equipment on site and the possibility of getting started in a few weeks."
Maxwell said all the members of the Atmore Industrial Development Board are excited about the steady progress Rivercane has made the past two months.
"It's all exciting," he said. "We've been excited about the possibility of it happening, but reality will set in when the bulldozers are on site and work begins. I think we'll be more excited because it will be real and not just a dream."
Work should begin on the site within a matter of weeks.