Ridgeway Seeks Arch Bargains

RIDGEWAY (Jan. 26, 2017) – With all three bids for the final stabilization and restoration of the old school arch coming in over the $12,000 allotted in a Municipal Association grant for the work, Town Council may be faced with some tricky decisions.

“What do we really want to do with the arch?” Mayor Charlene Herring asked Council during their Jan. 19 special meeting. “One thing is we want to make it is useable, we want to make it look more attractive than it is, but not take away from the character of the arch and the historic nature of it. If we look at these quotes, maybe we can go back and look at some of the things we requested.”

Ralph Golden presented the lowest bid on the project at $15,720. W.C. Construction’s offer came in at $18,274, while H&H Construction bid $26,200.

The Town’s grant proposal also included fencing for the area, as well as lighting. Those items, Herring said, may have to be eliminated from the project in order to finish the brickwork.

“My hope is somebody will make the recommendation that we take the lowest bid, which is $15,720, and give the mayor permission to go back and review the area and see if we can’t bring it under $12,000,” Herring said. “If we can do that then we move forward with that and we do have other parts of this grant we wouldn’t be able to do – the fencing, the lighting.”

The priority, she said, was stabilizing the arch.

When the old Ridgeway School was demolished a decade ago, local resident David Waters purchased most of the structure’s original brick from the Town. In 2015, Waters offered to sell back to the Town as much brick as they required to restore the arch. Minor stabilization of the arch was completed last year. During the Jan. 19 meeting, Councilman Heath Cookendorfer said only a small portion of the brick purchased from Waters had been used in that phase of the project. A great deal of brick remained, he said, that had not yet even been moved from Waters’ property to the arch site. The additional brick, he said, may help in bringing down the estimated cost presented by Golden.

Council gave the OK to Golden’s bid, while also authorizing Herring to attempt to negotiate a lower price in light of the additional brick.

Bids for fencing, meanwhile, ranged widely. Guardian Fencing submitted a high bid of $6,482, while Fence It was only slightly off that mark at $6,338. Both companies offered what Herring described as “commercial-grade” aluminum fencing. The lowest bid by far came from JMS Fencing at $1,252.

Herring said JMS did not visit the site and take measurements, but instead based its pricing on estimates of the size of the site taken over the phone. The fencing offered by JMS, she said, was also of a lower quality than the commercial grade offered by Guardian and Fence It.

The grant has $3,000 earmarked for fencing, Herring said, but as the grant also allows for the transfer of funds from one line item to another, and with such a transfer likely in the face of the steep bids on the brickwork, the Town will have to do some negotiating in that arena as well.

“Basically, we don’t know if we have enough money,” Herring said. “This is what I would like to recommend: that we look at going with the bid that has the best quality . . . and meet with the lowest bidder and see if we can get things to come down, make the area smaller, see what they can do, and if that doesn’t happen, then look at the (JMS) aluminum fencing.”

Cookendorfer moved to contact JMS Fencing to determine what their price would be for a commercial-grade fence. Councilman Donald Prioleau seconded the motion, which carried 4-1.

Councilwoman Angela Harrison voted against the motion. Harrison said she was against the idea of fencing altogether, as it sent a “keep away” message for a place that was meant to attract people.

2017 Priorities

In a work session held before Council’s Jan. 19 meeting, Council hashed out their Strategic Plan priorities for the coming year.

Extending the Town limits through annexation topped nearly every Council member’s list of suggestion, and Council agreed to make that a goal this year under the plan’s “Organization” header.

Under “Services and Utilities,” Council included the extension of water lines, the repair and upgrade of those water lines and adopting a system of automated meter readers.

Under “Public Safety,” Council, as in previous years, agreed to seek funding to hire a second police officer, while also made installing security cameras downtown a priority. Councilman Prioleau, who offered the security camera suggestion, said he once voted against having cameras downtown but that he has since accepted their value.

“My high school alumni in Winnsboro has cameras, and I didn’t realize how valuable they were,” Prioleau said. “A citizen in that area had someone ride by on a bicycle and take her pocketbook out of her car and our cameras caught that.”

Council also agreed, under the “Economic Development” header, to install public rest rooms downtown, to free up additional business space downtown and to research ways to bring additional housing to Ridgeway.

Preservation and restoration of historic buildings continued to top the “Historical and Cultural” section of the plan, to include restoration of the old Ridgeway School’s Teacherage and the second floor of the Old Town Hall on Palmer Street. Council also agreed to research funding for the publication of a book on the history of Ridgeway.

Under “Public Relations,” Council agreed to look into the production of a video loop highlighting the history of Ridgeway and its downtown businesses that would play on a cycle on the recently approved computer kiosk in the Visitor’s Center.

Finally, the community garden again made the list under “Community Action,” as well as the idea of a community Health Day.

Council meets again on Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in The Century House.