Future home of Co-op travel plaza

The field behind this Sheldon welcome sing will eventually house a new Co-Op Gas & Oil travel plaza, which will have a Godfather's Express restaurant.

SHELDON—Although a projected bid came in at $140,000 more than expected, the Sheldon City Council unanimously approved accepting the offer when it met Wednesday, June 5.

The city had solicited bids to install infrastructure at undeveloped Crossroads North business park, which will house a $2 million travel plaza that includes a Godfather’s Express restaurant being developed Co-op Gas & Oil.

Pat Bickett of Schlotfeldt Engineering Inc. estimated the infrastructure portion of the project, which fell on the city’s shoulder as part of the development agreement with the co-op, would cost about $885,000; however, every submitted bid was more than a $1 million.

“We need to get this project moving, we have a developer waiting and I think they’ve been waiting long enough,” said councilman Brad Hindt, who made the motion to accept the $1,025,771.76 bid from Vander Pol Excavating of Orange City.

Iowa Department of Transportation requirements for sanitary sewers and water mains to be completed as part of the projects were a few of the reasons why the bids came in higher than expected Bickett told the council.

The project engineer also cited boring methods.

“Of the $140,000, I think 80-plus thousand of that is just the different boring methods,” Bickett said. “It’s been a wet year this year, it was a wet, wet fall last year; I believe the contractors — especially the underground contractors — are cautious with their bid prices now because of the high groundwater tables that they do expect.”

Although the bid was higher than expected, Bickett recommended the council accept the bid from Vander Pol.

“I don’t think it will change much if we rebid it because of the way the boring contractors are looking at it, number one, and the uncertainty is still there about what the weather is going to do,” Bickett said.

The council asked Sheldon public works director Todd Uhl for his take on the high estimates and he agreed with Bickett’s recommendation. Uhl said the contractors said the city would not see a substantially lower bid even waiting another year.

“Our thought is accept the bid and move forward,” Uhl said. “It’s never what we like, but I’ll also remind you that with bidding, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

Following that, Uhl pointed out three recent projects that the city had that came in under the projected bid costs.

“This is one of those unfortunate jobs that did not come in underestimate,” he said.

Hindt asked if the city had the money to cover the $140,000 difference. City manager Sam Kooiker said it does and the funds would be drawn from the land sales proceeds fund.

“We did confirm we have access to spend from those funds,” Kooiker said.

As Hindt later alluded to when he made his motion, the city was ready to get the ball rolling on this project.

The co-op travel plaza is expected to anchor the Crossroads North business park. When the project was publicly announced in July 2018, work was projected to start this spring.

Situated on a six-acre site, the truck stop will have a more than 8,000-square-foot service center that offers tire and automotive services to motorists and a more than 5,000-square-foot convenience store.

Among other business Wednesday, June 12, the council:

  1. Approved requests for three student firefighters — Jasmine Holtrop, Maison Oostra and Michael Paulsen — to join Sheldon Fire Co.
  2. Approved a request for Travis Buyert to join the Sheldon Emergency Management Agency.
  3. Approved a fireworks permit request from Rise Ministries of Sheldon for RiseFest 2019.
  4. Approved an agreement with Utility Services Partners to offer service line warranties to residential property. Under this agreement, the company would offer the services and handle all marketing and promoting, but it would be allowed to use the city’s logo in its billing and promotional materials.
  5. Heard an update on the H.C. Lane building.
  6. Held the second reading of ordinance setting water rates and how the city delivers utility bill notifications.
  7. Held the second reading and waived the third for of an ordinance that would lower speed limits on parts of Highway 18 (Park Street).
  8. Heard multiple reports on full-time employees’ benefit renewals.