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Without hesitation, Williston's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) voted unanimously Monday night to reject all bids that were submitted for creating a paved parking lot in Block 12 – the area behind Main Street businesses.
"I am still troubled we're talking about committing half of a million dollars to the project," City Manager Scott Lippmann told CRA members.
At a meeting earlier this year, the CRA learned if the project went through as planned, it would drain the CRA's coffers until the next fiscal year.
Lippmann said he and City Utility Supervisor CJ Zamoski had looked carefully at the proposed site plan for Block 12 and believed amendments could be made to get the project down to $300,000-$350,000.
The city manager said because of the substantial cost difference, he recommended the CRA reject the submitted bids. Zamoski could then outline the cost-saving changes, rescope the project and put it out for bids again.
Ideally, once the parking lot is complete, it will enhance the economic growth of that area, Lippmann said. If it goes as planned, the CRA can go back and enhance the area in Phase 2.
However, if the parking addition does not bolster growth, the CRA will have funds it can spend elsewhere.
The possibility of a grant from USDA was bandied about earlier this year, but Lippmann said as of last week, none of the property owners/shopkeepers on Block 12 had submitted required IRS paperwork to the USDA.
CRA Vice Chairman Nick Williams said he kept rehashing Lippmann's earlier words that the CRA could do a lot with half a million dollars.
"I was hoping there would be an alternative," Williams said.
CRA Chairman Ken Schwiebert said to do nothing at this point doesn't make sense, but to scale back, look at it again and devise an alternate plan is still a worthwhile project that will benefit Block 12 and the city of Williston.