Committee approves public works purchases

WILLMAR -- Willmar Public Works Director Sean Christensen presented several purchase requests for vehicles and equipment to the Public Works and Safety Committee Wednesday.On the list was a Bobcat Toolcat, a Ford F-150 pickup truck, a Ford F-350 ...

WILLMAR - Willmar Public Works Director Sean Christensen presented several purchase requests for vehicles and equipment to the Public Works and Safety Committee Wednesday.
On the list was a Bobcat Toolcat, a Ford F-150 pickup truck, a Ford F-350 pickup truck and dump body and new GPS equipment. All the purchases were in the 2016 capital outlay program and the vehicles were in need of replacement per the city’s vehicle/equipment replacement policy.
The Bobcat Toolcat is a new piece of equipment and will be used for snow removal on paths, trails and ice rinks along with being used for other tasks across the city’s streets, parks and baseball diamonds.
“These are handy pieces of equipment,” Councilman Ron Christianson said.
The purchase price for the Bobcat, from Farm-Rite Equipment of Willmar, is $46,551 through municipal pricing. The 2016 capital outlay program had $60,000 budgeted for the purchase.
The purchase of the Ford F-150 will be replacing a current vehicle, which is 10 years old, Christensen said. The old truck will be going to the fire department, where it will be used for various tasks, such as hydrant painting. The city will purchase the truck from Nelson Auto Center Fleet Department in Fergus Falls for $29,924. There was $37,500 in the budget for the purchase.
The F-350 is replacing a similar vehicle in the Public Works fleet which has engine and suspension concerns. The current vehicle will be repaired and then auctioned off in May.
The new truck will be purchased for $26,689 from Nelson Auto Center Fleet Department and the dump body is from Tow Master Inc., at a cost of $15,847. The city budgeted $49,000 for the two purchases.
“We’re getting good prices for these,” Christianson said.
The engineering GPS equipment is very important to the work Christensen and his crew do.
“It is the mainstay of our surveying, staking and designing we do in-house,” Christensen said.
The equipment the department is currently using is 10 years old and has become obsolete and replacement parts are no longer being manufactured. The old one will be traded in for $6,500. With the trade-in reflected in the price the total purchase of the new GPS equipment from Frontier Precision is $47,101, within the $50,000 limit in the budget.
Frontier was the low quote and Christensen said is much more accurate than what the department has now. The new equipment includes a GPS rover, robotic total station and a tablet controller.

Library crossing

Mary Lou Arne and Willmar Head Librarian John Baken attended the committee meeting to see if any additional work had been done on the library crossing. There had been resident concerns about children and adults crossing the street from the Block 50 parking lot to the library without there being a crosswalk.
There had been school bus pickups and drop-offs at that location, but those have been moved.
“We believe this helped with some of the concerns,” Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt said.
When it comes to a mid-block crosswalk, Christensen is still not a fan.
“I do not want to put in additional crosswalks. Where do we put it in, where do we stop putting them in? The entire block turns into a crosswalk,” Christensen said, pointing to the six Block 50 entrances and exits on Fifth Street.
“The obvious spot for one crosswalk is where it comes out of the library. That seems to be the logical place for it to go,” Arne said.
Baken said he wonders if it would be possible to research lowering the speed limit instead.
“I would be hesitant to lower it one block,” Christensen said.
Felt said there have been no accidents with pedestrians in the library area as far as he knows and speeding isn’t usually a problem. The main tickets given in the Central Business District usually are for stop sign infractions or illegal U-turns, Felt said.
Christensen said he will look into what other cities are doing in their central business districts.
Arne said she is thankful for the work the city is doing to mitigate the problem, but hopes more can be done.
“It can take all you’ve got to walk from Block 50, across the street into the library,” Arne said, if you have health problems. Walking down to one of the corner crosswalks and then back to the library door can be too much for the older residents.


Proposed city purchasing policy would update current practices

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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