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Local

Sterling council OKs bids to raze more houses

Officials hope for extension of expiring grant cycle

STERLING – Facing a tight deadline, the city will squeeze in two more demolitions of abandoned houses with its remaining grant money.

The City Council Tuesday approved bids, both from Burke Excavating of Tampico, to knock down the houses at 603 Fourth Ave. and 208 W. Seventh St.

The bid on the Fourth Avenue building had previously been awarded to another contractor, but because of deadline concerns, it was given to Burke Excavating.

"We have a March 17 contractors deadline for both properties to be down, and the grant agreement ends March 31, so we're on a tight deadline," Building and Zoning Administrator Amanda Schmidt said.

The city said the decision to switch contractors was made because it was discovered that the low bidder had missed six deadlines by 19 days or more in contracts awarded for other projects done through the grant program.

The demolitions are paid for through a grant from the federal Blight Reduction Program. The grant is administered through the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

The city had requested $300,000 in its grant application, but ended up receiving $455,000.

"We have some money left, so we're hoping to extend the deadline," Schmidt said.

There is no guarantee it will be extended, however, so the city wanted to make sure the last two are torn down before the target date.

Burke's bid on the Fourth Avenue house, the second lowest of four, is $14,490, which is $2,490 higher than the lowest bid. The city acquired the deed on the property in October.

The house at 208 W. Seventh St. will be demolished by Burke at a cost of $13,449. The city received the deed to that property Dec. 1. Burke was the lowest of four bids for the job.

The city plans to apply for the next round of BRP funding, but in the meantime, another source has come through with funds for blighted properties.

"We were told Friday that we were awarded an additional $71,000 for abandoned residential properties through the Illinois Housing Development Authority," Schmidt said.

Mayor Skip Lee said the city's blight-reduction program wouldn't be possible without the partnerships the city has formed over the years.

"There is no way we could come up with the money to get these things done – not in these financial times," Lee said.

The two demolitions approved Tuesday brings the number of properties that have been demolished through the federal grant to 13, and with an extension, the city could do six more.

NEXT MEETING

The Sterling City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. March 6 at City Hall, 212 Third Ave., in the first-floor Council Chambers.

Go to sterling-il.gov or call City Hall at 815-632-6621 for an agenda or more information.

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