ALTON — By a 4-3 vote, the City Council approved an engineering services agreement Wednesday with SMS Engineers.
Aldermen Michael Velloff, James Ryan and Gary Fleming voted against the agreement, which is part of a project to install an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk on the north side of College Avenue from Holman Street to Rock Springs Drive.
At the meeting, Velloff questioned SMS Vice President Dave Godar’s estimate of the number of hours Godar will work. Godar responded that dealing with bureaucratic hurdles is time-consuming.
“I don’t think the aldermen may have understood the challenges that doing ADA compliance presents,” Mayor Brant Walker said in an interview. “They’re just wanting to make sure we’re being fiscally responsible when we use taxpayers’ money.”
The project is being funded by a $270,000 state grant and $67,500 from the city. Construction is expected to begin in July 2016. Walker said the sidewalk work is part of a larger project to improve College Avenue from Statehouse Circle Square to Illinois 140.
Walker praised the work of department heads to secure grants that make it possible for many projects in the works, such as resurfacing the tennis courts at Rock Spring Park and the Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center at the former Robert P. Wadlow Golf Course.
“I think it’s a very exciting time for Alton with the amount of work on streets and sidewalks, and quality of life issues for our community that has not been addressed for a very long time,” Walker said.
In other business, the council approved a four-year contract with Police Benevolent and Protective Association Unit 14 from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2018. The contract calls for raises of 1.5 percent in 2015, 1.5 percent in 2016 and 2 percent in 2017.
Walker said the contract is fiscally responsible and has among the lowest pay increases in the region.
“It also speaks highly of our police department for being willing to work with us given the tight finances of the city,” he said.