WILKES-BARRE — City council on Thursday approved a new contractor at a higher cost to take over the Solomon Creek wall reconstruction project.
Representatives of Don E. Bower Inc., of Berwick, have a meeting Friday with city officials on the first phase of the project to install a new, pre-fabricated concrete wall along Brook Street between Waller and South Franklin streets.
The vote was 4-0 for Bower with councilwoman Beth Gilbert abstaining without public explanation.
Bower submitted the second lowest bid of $2,017,954 and will replace low-bidder AR Popple Inc., of Wilkes-Barre, whose $1,548,448 contract was terminated last month by the city for undisclosed reasons.
City attorney Tim Henry said because of the possibility of litigation by Popple he would not respond to questions raised by Bob Kadluboski about the termination.
Kadluboski asked if Plains Township-based Borton-Lawson, the engineer on the project who recommended Popple be terminated, will cover the city’s legal fees if there is a lawsuit filed. He also asked if the city gave Popple the opportunity to “cure” any problems before the termination.
“How did we get this far?” Kadluboski said.
The project has been a priority for Mayor Tony George, who campaigned on rebuilding the Depression-era wall that channels the creek through South Wilkes-Barre and Hanover Township where it flows into the Susquehanna River. The city has secured more than $6 million in grants for the reconstruction and committed $4 million of its own funds to be used to build a pump station during the second phase of the project.
The hiring of Bower will delay construction to mid to late September, more than a month from the Aug. 1 start Popple had planned.
Insurance, grant applications
Council unanimously approved all other items on Thursday’s agenda:
• A new insurance package from Joyce Insurance Group, of Pittston, at a cost of $408,842. The premium on the current package is $418,990.
• A winter service agreement with PennDOT to pay the city $56,368 for the maintenance of 37.21 miles of state roads.
• The sale of city-owned property at 30 Hickory St. for $500 to Doroteo Martinez Pineda and Silviana Vergara Tlantenchi.
• The application for a 2018 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for $19,733 to pay for recertification of firearms/Taser instructors, tactical and non-tactical training and saturation patrols for violent crime areas.
• Applications to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for grants for the Scott Street and Carey Avenue streetscape projects.
• Ordinances for the placement of permanent stop signs at six intersections throughout the city, adoption of the 2009 International Property Maintenance Code and setting restrictions on the use of fireworks.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.