After months of delays the replacement of water lines in the neighborhood of North Port St. Joe will begin this month

After months of delays the replacement of water lines in the neighborhood of North Port St. Joe will begin this month.

The USDA has finally signed off on the final construction scope for a sidewalk project along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., to be done at the same time as the water line replacement, allowing contractor GAC to begin work on both projects.

The water line replacement on the north side of town was carved out of the first phase – finished last summer on the south side of town – in order to seek and secure Community Development Block Grant funding, reducing the city’s debt package from the State Revolving Fund.

The sidewalk project, funded by the USDA, was also approved and it was decided that the two projects should be completed simultaneously as they overlap.

However, coordinating approvals from the CDBG and USDA offices proved a challenge, particularly after the federal government shut down last year.

Compounding the delays was coordinating the final scope of the two projects, which had to be value-engineered after bids came in higher than available grant dollars, requiring another round of approvals.

A project once expected to be completed by fall 2013, then pushed back to a tentative start date of November, will begin Feb. 17.

“Finally we have gotten the good news to move ahead,” said city manager Jim Anderson.

Other business:

*Signage for the city’s golf cart crossing at Reid Avenue and State 71 is up and the approved crossing is open.

*Commissioners renewed Anderson’s contract, due to expire March 1, for another year with a 4.5 percent cost of living increase.

*Bids for the relocation of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse and ancillary buildings – to be moved under separate bids - have been received, coming in, combined, roughly $25,000-$30,000 under the original bids to move the entire complex.

City staff is examining the bids to consider a possible application of local preference in the award, but the total cost remains an unknown given the bids do not include the lowering of power lines to facilitate the move.

Commissioners also heard from a contingent from the Coastal Community Association encouraging commissioners to look closely at the economics of the relocation and reconsider whether a county plan to move the complex to Salinas Park isn’t a better option.