The Town of Blue Springs' sidewalk project will move forward, two months after its future was thrown into jeopardy over unexpectedly high contractor bids.
The Blue Springs Board of Aldermen voted to approve a bid of $119,981 from M&N Construction of Oxford to construct a scaled-down version of the sidewalk plan along the eastern side of Highway 9. The sidewalk will extend from the town Hall to County Road 265.
"We've had discussions with the contractor to try to scale down the project to get it under the $120,000 grant," Mike Waters, engineer for Tupelo-based A2H Architects told the board before it took a vote. "Finally, this week we were able to cut out enough to get it just under that amount."
The original plan was for the sidewalk to end at the post office, but when bids were opened on Nov. 15, the lowest bid was $235,766 -- approximately $115,000 above the $120,000 Small Municipality and Limited Populations grant Blue Springs received from the Mississippi Development Authority for the project. Mayor Rita Gentry and Waters informed the board about the higher-than-expected bids during its December meeting. As of that meeting, the town had already spent $8,700 of its own money to have the plans and specifications drawn up and start the bidding process as part of a 10-percent match required by MDA to receive the grant.
Blue Springs still owes approximately $3,300 as a part of its match.
Gentry told the aldermen she felt they should accept the bid.
"I really feel like this is our only choice at this point," she said. "I have tried my best, talking with Three Rivers [Planning and Development District] and MDA, to see if there were any more funds out there, but it's just not out there. But this way we won't have spent all that money for nothing."
Gentry and Waters also told the board the Union County Board of Supervisors have agreed to offer some in-kind services, specifically aid with dirt, to help offset some costs as well.
"The county could not deliver the dirt, the contractor would have to move it," Waters said.
After the board voted to approve the adjusted bid, one Blue Springs resident asked if the grant money had to be used to construct sidewalks or if it could be used or other projects in town. Gentry told her that she believed this grant was specifically for the sidewalks, since that was listed on the town's application. The resident then presented a Small Municipalities and Limited Populations grant application that indicated there is no match required for municipalities with a population under 3,500. However, according to Gentry, it was later determined that this application was outdated and that currently MDA requires a 10 percent match for municipalities of that size.