Little Lake Restoration on Hold with Bids over Budget

Work to restore the shoreline at Bradley Lake – the body of water at Sunset Park commonly referred to as Little Lake – is on hold after the two bids that the City of Sturgeon Bay received were hundreds of thousands of dollars above the budgeted amount.

The Sturgeon Bay Common Council agreed last week to take no action and bring the matter back for consideration during its June 21 meeting after city staff looked into options for lowering costs, such as reducing the project’s scope.

Mike Barker, municipal services director, said the bids opened June 2 included one from Advanced Construction of Green Bay for $1,147,961.05, and one from Michels Construction of Brownsville for $972,174.30.

“In the capital budget for this year, we had $400,000 budgeted for the lake, so that’s the bad news,” he said. “We did reach out to the lower bidder, and we’re trying to work with him to see if he would still do the project at a reduced scope of work.”

Barker said he didn’t get the answer he was looking for from Michels Construction before the June 7 council meeting.

“It’s not even 100% sure that he would come here,” he said.

Mike Barker.

Barker said the cost Michels Construction listed to mobilize and demobilize to do the shoreline restoration work is around $120,000.

“That doesn’t leave a lot of money left for shoreline restoration,” he said.

During periods of high water in recent years, Little Lake has flooded its banks and caused standing water on Alabama Street along the north side of Sunset Park.

City Administrator Josh VanLieshout advised the council not to take action June 7 in hopes that the city could work out a negotiated price for a reduced-scope contract with Michels Construction.

“When we do that, maybe use bid pricing,” he said. “The nice thing about the way we set up this contract is it’s all done in unit quantities, so instead of having 1,300 feet of shoreline restoration, that could be reduced to something less than that.”

VanLieshout said the council would then be able to make a policy decision as to whether it wants to proceed with a shoreline-restoration project for the budgeted amount.

Instead of the work being a city project, VanLieshout said there’s a longshot possibility that it could be taken on as a state-agency project using Great Lakes Restoration funding.

“We did have a nice conversation with some folks from [the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources] that shed some light on what that could look like,” he said, “but I don’t want to get too many hopes up.”

VanLieshout said municipalities currently face difficult bidding conditions.

“There’s a ton of work on the street; there’s a labor shortage; [and] there’s actually an equipment shortage,” he said. “There’s so much going on, you can’t get stuff.”