Crestwood board OKs pact with firm to help rebuild service bridge

By EVAN YOUNG

Crestwood will hire an engineering firm to help the city reconstruct what has been little more than a footbridge in one of its parks for the past two years.

The Board of Aldermen voted 6-2 Sept. 8 to approve a $118,850 contract, including $10,000 for change orders, with CDG Engineers for design services in the reconstruction of the Whitecliff Park Service Bridge over Gravois Creek.

Ward 2 Alderman Jeff Schlink and Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild were opposed.

Aldermen initially rejected the agreement July 28 on a 4-2 vote, with Ward 4 Aldermen John Foote and Deborah Beezley in favor of the proposal. However, Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach subsequently won the board’s approval to reconsider the issue.

The deteriorating service bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in November 2007 after a Missouri Department of Transportation inspection. The following month, the city received a MoDOT grant that would offset 80 percent of the new bridge’s design and construction costs.

Using that grant, the city would pay $24,000 of the estimated $120,000 needed to design the new bridge and $120,000 of the $600,000 estimated cost to construct it.

In total, the city would pay $144,000 on the $720,000 project.

The new service bridge will be designed and constructed in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Until then, the current structure will remain open solely to pedestrians.

Although it ultimately approved the CDG contract, the Board of Aldermen debated heavily whether the bridge reconstruction was worth spending $144,000 of the city’s money.

Before voting in favor of the agreement July 28, Foote and Beezley said a bridge inaccessible to emergency vehicles could present problems if a fire or other incident occurred in the park. On the other hand, Duchild has maintained that the city could better spend the $144,000 elsewhere.

In a prepared statement Sept. 8, the Ward 3 alderman said he had a responsibility to ensure the city makes good use of taxpayer dollars — which includes any public grants it receives, he added, because those grants are funded by taxpayers.

Duchild also said that the city likely is overestimating the extent of both the design and cost of the project, and it should explore alternative, cheaper structures — such as a low-water bridge — with which to replace the Whitecliff service bridge.

“It is always prudent for a budgeting entity to consider less-costly options …,” he said last week. “I’m convinced, more than ever, that there is a cheaper solution than a one-and-only solution proposed by the city.”

City Administrator Jim Eckrich later said the grant the city accepted doesn’t allow much flexibility with regard to the type of bridge constructed and he is optimistic the project will be completed under budget.

The CDG agreement was one of two proposals aldermen recently reconsidered and approved after previously rejecting them.

The other item — a series of changes to the city’s police code — was approved Aug. 25. As presented, that ordinance contained several police code amendments recommended by the city’s Police Board, which is comprised of volunteer residents who serve in an advisory capacity.

Some of those recommended amendments were:

• Modify Police Board members’ terms to run concurrently with the mayor’s term.

• Allow the Police Board aldermanic representative to designate an alternative representative to attend meetings.

• Modify the code to read the Police Board will meet “regularly” instead of “monthly.”

• Stipulate that Police Department and police chief compensation shall be provided for within the city’s budget instead of a specific ordinance or resolution.

• Modify the police chief’s requirement to report to the Police Board and Board of Aldermen to “as requested” instead of on a “monthly” basis.

Duchild offered four amendments to the police code ordinance during the June 23 Board of Aldermen meeting.

Some of those amendments contained changes — such as keeping the Police Board meeting and police chief report frequencies at “monthly” — that completely reversed the Police Board’s recommendations.

Aldermen didn’t approve the majority of Duchild’s amendments, but the board deadlocked 3-3 on the ordinance’s second reading July 28. The legislation failed because ordinances must receive at least five affirmative votes to pass.

However, Foote made a motion Aug. 11 to reconsider the ordinance. He successfully proposed an amendment Aug. 25 to the revisions, changing the Police Board’s meeting requirements to “monthly unless canceled due to extenuating circumstances.”

Aldermen then approved the changes unanimously.