City approves Front Avenue improvements

Also creates new PIO job

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COEUR d'ALENE - A final agreement between the city of Coeur d'Alene and the Hagadone Corporation to convert a portion of Front Avenue to a pedestrian corridor was approved by the city council on Tuesday.

The agreement essentially details what each entity will be responsible for when construction begins on the project later this month. It's scheduled to be completed by mid-March.

According to city engineer Gordon Dobler, the city will contribute $150,000 toward the project, and the Hagadone Corp. will contribute the remainder of the associated costs.

Dobler said the exact amount the Hagadone Corp. contributes has not been finalized because some details are still being worked out, but the number will equal the final cost of the total project - less the $150,000 the city has committed.

"I can give you a fairly accurate estimate of what that would be," Dobler told the council. "It would be $950,000 to just shy of $1 million."

Dobler said that a bid has come in for the majority of the work at $742,000. The low bid was submitted by Cameron-Reilly, LLC, and the council was asked to approve that bid.

Councilwoman Kiki Miller asked Dobler to clarify who exactly was managing the project.

"So the city is managing the improvement contract for the entire project?" she asked Dobler.

Dobler said there is only one contract and the city controls that. He explained the project gets a little confusing because the Hagadone Corp. is going to be doing some improvements to its private property in front of The Resort at the same time.

"I am just visualizing that the city is managing a $1 million contract, which they are paying $150,000 for, and overseeing the entire million-dollar project?" Miller summarized, looking for confirmation from Dobler.

"That is exactly right," Dobler responded.

The council unanimously approved the agreement and the contractor's bid, so the project can now move forward.

In other business, the council approved a new public information coordinator position for the city and an application analyst position for the city police department.

Melissa Tosi presented the amendment to the city's Classification and Compensation Plan.

City Councilman Dan Gookin had a few questions on the process for hiring the public information coordinator's position.

"How much of this is us (the council), and how much of this is the administration?" Gookin asked. "Is this basically we are approving this and the administration isgoing to proceed with hiring the PIO?"

Tosi explained that the new position is going to be a full-time, fully benefited position and would most likely be offered to staff internally rather than posting the job to the public.

"When we hired Kristina Lyman to basically be a freelancer PIO, I got several emails from people who do that who were questioning why we don't just go out and do that in the public.

"Is there any opportunity for us to change that from internal and go ahead and ask for a solicitation of offers from the general public?" he asked.

She said it is a contracted position right now and it would be up to the department head to decide if they want to hire internally or publicly.

City administrator Wendy Gabriel said it is typical for the city to look internally to find the talent to fill the position, but if that cannot be done, it goes to the public to fill the position.

The city currently outsources public information duties to Keith Erickson, but even though he is an outside contractor, Gabriel said after the meeting that he is considered a "contract employee."

She said he is eligible to apply as an internal employee for that position.

"We have done that before on one occasion that I am aware of," she said.

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