Senior Center gets new home

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka

Kannapolis Citizen

The Cabarrus County Department of Aging has reached an agreement that will allow the Seniors LunchPlus program to move its Kannapolis location to the Lane Street Church of God.

The department began moving its equipment to the church last week, cleaned the kitchen and prepared to start serving lunches this week.

But a roadblock surfaced when the church failed an inspection by the Cabarrus Health Alliance, which found that the septic system doesn’t have enough capacity for the food service program.

Public Works Director Wilmer Melton told Kannapolis City Council that a temporary solution has been worked out that should allow the lunch program to start.

But the long-term solution will be to connect the church to the city sewer system. The question for Kannapolis City Council will become whether to exempt the church from the normal connection and tap fees.

The senior lunch program has been in Kannapolis for at least 20 years and had been at the Kannapolis YMCA since 1999 until losing its contract in 2005.

It once averaged about 250 seniors a day but has struggled to find a permanent home.

Council received an update on the program Monday night.

Bidding process

In other business Monday, council discussed the future bidding procedures on infrastructure projects that would be paid through self-financing bonds connected with the North Carolina Research Campus.

In 2006, the General Assembly passed special legislation that exempts the city from normal bidding requirements on public infrastructure projects connected to the North Carolina Research Campus.

City Manager Mike Legg said the legislation allows the city to proceed “with any bidding process that is suitable and appropriate, considering the pace of construction and the unique partnership that the NCRC provides.”

Under normal circumstances, local governments must follow state requirements for informal or formal bids, depending on the size of the contract.

The informal process can be used for projects in which the construction contract is between $25,000 and $300,000. The formal bid process is required for projects more than $300,000.

Legg said most of the city’s construction contracts connected to the campus will be more than $300,000. He asked council to consider five bid options.

The city could follow the regular process for formal bids; follow an informal bidding process; follow an informal bidding process but widen its solicitation of bidders; allow staff to determine which process to follow on a case-by-case basis; or eliminate all bidding.

If the city eliminated all bidding, city staff and Castle & Cooke, the campus’ developer, would be making all the decisions on which contractors to hire.

Legg warned that kind of process would be criticized by the construction industry.

“The only upside,” he added in notes to council, “is that Castle & Cooke could reach agreements with various contractors up front on bulk pricing and may be able to negotiate prices more effectively than the city would be able to through its more stringent procedures.”

But Legg favored the option in which the city would follow an informal bid process and solicit from a wide range of pre-qualified contractors. These contractors would be notified when a project is informally let for bids.

Council would not be involved, unless it wanted to have final approval, Legg said. In that case, it might add as much as two weeks to the process.

City officials wanted their special legislative provision in the bid process in case they have to act quickly on campus projects as they arise.

Councilman Darrell Hinnant said he was not clear on when the city and Castle & Cooke would be working together on the infrastructure projects. He said he envisioned “our” projects and “their” projects.

As an example, Legg said, the city will be doing intersection improvements along Loop Road and may find that it has to speed up some of the work to tie in with streets Castle & Cooke builds from the campus side.

Water lines also could require quick cooperation in awarding contracts, Legg said.

Legg agreed that “the majority of projects will not be like this.”

Councilmen Gene McCombs and Richard Anderson said the council could call a special meeting for approval of a bid and not necessarily add two weeks to the process.

Mayor Bob Misenheimer said a council approval of bids is more palatable to him, because he wanted to avoid favoritism and ensure competitive bidding.

Hinnant emphasized the importance of making sure local contractors are involved in the process.

Council members provided only their input Monday night and will make a final decision later.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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