Silverhill to proceed with road paving projects

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SILVERHILL, Alabama — A grant project to resurface and widen streets in Silverhill is set to begin the bid process over the next few weeks after plans for the project were finalized during the town council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

In January, the town received word that it had been awarded a $250,000 Alabama Department of Transportation Rebuild Alabama Grant. The $250,000 grant application included resurfacing projects on First, Second, Third, Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Streets, and South Avenue. It also allowed for the widening of some of the streets.

But after the cost of the project came higher than initially anticipated, the council discussed modifying the project, possibly removing Fourth Street in order to widen Ninth Street.

While streets cannot be added under the terms of the grant, streets included in the grant could be removed and work on those streets could be modified.

“We ultimately decided to keep Fourth Street and not widen Ninth Street,” said Mayor Jared Lyles in a phone interview on Wednesday.

In communications with Alan Killen with Civil Southeast, the engineer for the project, Lyles said Killen will be working with ALDOT over the next few weeks to present final plans for the project, which should be ready to start the bid process in the next four to five weeks.

At an August council meeting, Killen said there is a time limit on the bid process and completion of the project. Killen said the project must be completed within one year when the grant was awarded, which means the project would have to be completed by January of 2021.

The town is currently setting aside $25,000 a year for street repaving, Lyles said, part of which would be used for engineering fees not covered by the grant.

The resurfacing would not include Alabama 104 (Main Street), which would fall under the Alabama Department of Transportation, or County Road 55 (Broad Street), which would fall under the Baldwin County Highway Department’s jurisdiction.

In other business Tuesday, the council voted to retain Gruenloh, Hardy and Associates as a consultant in preparing for the town’s annual audit.

Each year the town has to retain an independent auditor to prepare and annual financial statement. Lyles said the town would need to hire a separate firm to conduct the independent audit since Gruenloh, Hardy senior partner Wayne Gruenloh is a member of the town council.

“Since we’re just using them as a consultant, the rules governing a conflict of interest don’t apply,” Lyles said, adding that Gruenloh was not present at Tuesday’s meeting and did not participate in any of the discussions about retaining his firm as a consultant. “That was by design. We did not want there to be any perception that he had any influence over the council’s decision.”

Lyles said hiring a consultant would give the town clerks someone to call if they needed advice in preparing for the audit.

“When we retain an independent auditor, we cannot use that firm for any advice they might need in preparing the audit,” he said. “This way, they have someone they can call when they have a question.”

Also on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the council: