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Downey again rejects library renovation bids

DOWNEY — Renovation of the City Library, expected to take 15 months, has been delayed as the City Council May 14 again rejected all bids for the job.

New bids are due June 11, Assistant City Manager John Oskoui said

Oskoui said the apparent lowest of nine bidders, TELACU Construction Management, which bid the project at $4.94 million, was challenged by the second lowest, AWI Builders, which bid $4.99 million.

AWI, the apparent lowest of 11 bidders, at the March 26 council meeting, was challenged by Cal-City Construction.

The library is slated for extensive interior renovation as well as exterior remodeling and will be closed for 15 months.

During the closure, some library services and programs will be conducted at other locations, including a temporary fire station at Bellflower Boulevard and Washburn Avenue; Downey City Hall, 11111 Brookshire Ave.; and the First Baptist Church of Downey, 8333 Second St.

In a second major project May 14, the council approved plans and directed city staff to seek bids for two projects at Wilderness Park, 10999 Little Lake Road.

The project, estimated at $875,000, includes removal of water and sludge from two ponds and relocation of wildlife, Oskoui said in a written report to the council.

Oskoui said prior to upgrading the park, 2.5 acres of wetlands and animal habitat at the ponds must be drained of water, cleaned and the  native wildlife must be protected and relocated.

The drainage project calls for removal and disposal of about one million gallons of water and one million gallons of sludge — plant and animal waste. The contractor must work with a wildlife relocation specialist to ensure animals, fish and bird safety, Oskoui said. He estimated the cost of the project at $800,000.

The second part calls for working with wildlife, bird and turtle rescue organizations to either adopt or release them, possibly to turtle and bird sanctuaries. The ponds must be aerated to ensure fish safety as the water levels drop. Food must be provided for the water foul. Estimated cost is $75,000.

Work on the two projects, financed by a $1.6 million grant from the San Gabriel Rivers and Mountains Conservatory, is expected to start in August and be completed in October, Oskoui said.

Once those projects are completed, work can start to upgrade the park, including the replacement of invasive plant species with native plants, installing a naturalized hardened shoreline plus a new aeration system to improve water quality and return animal wildlife including migratory birds, he said in the report.

The upgrade includes access to the 28-mile San Gabriel River Trail, running along the park, and educational signs for wetland and native habitat awareness, he added.

Funding of the upgrade will come from the 1% sales tax hike approved by Downey voters in November 2016.

That tax will raise about $7.5 million annually. Of that amount, $4.5 million a year has been leveraged to sell and pay off  $50 million dollars in bonds to upgrade city buildings and parks.

Bond funds are being used to upgrade and expand all four fire stations, a number of parks and other municipal buildings including the library.

By Arnold Adler