By BILL SHEA
A demolition job that will clear the way for a downtown street realignment is expected to begin shortly, according to a Fort Dodge official.
''I would anticipate the work downtown will start very quickly,'' Councilman Terry Moehnke said Tuesday.
Moehnke, who is part of a new City Council majority which supports the crosstown connector, briefed members of the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District board on developments related to that project.
The buildings to be demolished are near the intersection of First Avenue South and Sixth Street. They were once owned by Carpet World/Flooring America, and were bought by the city about two years ago specifically so that they could be knocked down to create space for a new link between First and Second avenues south.
According to Moehnke, the city staff recently received bids for the demolition work. He said three bids were received, and the lowest one is about $51,000.
He said the bids will be presented to the council on Monday, and added that he thinks the award of a demolition contract ''probably will sail through.''
City staffers will soon resume monthly coordination meetings on the crosstown connector project, according to Stephanie Houk Sheetz, the senior city planner.
The downtown street realignment will join First and Second avenues south with a new roundabout intersection at Sixth Street.
The street realignment was first proposed in a downtown master plan prepared by Camiros, of Chicago, Ill. It's intended to force more traffic toward Central Avenue, the core of the downtown. The City Council adopted that plan in 2008.
That new street connection is one part of a larger crosstown connector effort that will make First Avenue South a two-way street for its entire length.
However, the project was placed on hold after a council majority opposed to it was elected in 2011.
During the 2013 election, voters chose a council majority that favors the project.
Also Tuesday, the board decided to continue seeking partners to help pay for a proposed study of downtown parking conditions. Board members have committed $15,000 for a study estimated to cost $30,000 to $35,000.
''Parking is a priority with this committee,'' said board member Steve Pederson.
In other business, the board:
- Voted to sell the 64 flower baskets that once were hanging from downtown lamp posts.
- Re-elected Jim Bird to the board and elected Leo Stuckey as a new member.
- Re-elected Rich Seltz as president, Bird as vice president, Cheryl O'Hern as secretary and Pederson as treasurer.
The Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District is a roughly 33-block downtown area in which property owners pay an extra tax to finance improvements there.