WI: Council Approves Paratransit Contract for Abby Vans

Feb. 29--A $6.84 million contract for serving Eau Claire city and county paratransit needs until the end of 2017 went to Abby Vans of Neillsville on Tuesday after the city council delayed its decision by two weeks.

Councilman Dave Duax said there was a palpable feeling of comfort with the change in vendors from Tender Care Transport of Lake Hallie, which served paratransit residents for the past five years, after Abby Vans explained its plans Monday in a public hearing.

"The delay was necessary to get people assured that this is taken care of," he said.

Councilman Mark Olson asked that the city's Transit Commission follow up with a report in a few months to see how the transition is going.

"I think it's a good idea, five or six months down the road, to take a look," said Councilman Dana Wachs, who is on the Transit Commission.

The council voted 10-0 to approve the 5 3/4 -year contract for Abby Vans, which will be taking calls and contacting paratransit clients in mid-March before beginning service April 1.

Tender Care's bid was $7.35 million.

Paratransit service is available to elderly and disabled residents who cannot reach a bus stop.

Manager search

Executive search firm Springsted of St. Paul will assist the council in finding a new city manager.

In an 8-2 vote, the council awarded the firm an $18,450 contract over Illinois-based firm Voorhees, which bid $20,400 for the job.

"Either one of the firms could've done the job. They are both very good," Councilman David Klinkhammer said.

Councilmen Olson and Larry Balow cast dissenting votes. Springsted had conducted a study for the city in the 1990s that recommended consolidating fire stations, Balow said, which was contradicted by internal findings.

The city plans to have a new manager -- its top executive position -- chosen by May or June.

Other business

The council also voted against adding sidewalks to two streets that currently do not have them.

In 10-0 votes, the council decided not to install sidewalks on the west side of the 1300 block of Badger Street, on the city's East Side Hill, and along Shady Grove Road, between Western Avenue and North Hastings Way on the city's north side.

The former has sloping residential yards that would require retaining walls ,and the latter is a commercial area across the street from a bike trail.

The fourth phase of developer Jim Rooney's Prairie Park rental housing project in the city's far southeast corner got the council's approval in a 9-1 vote, with Councilman Andrew Werthmann casting the lone dissenting vote.

Dowd can be reached at 715-833-9204, 800-236-7077 or andrew.dowd@ecpc.com.

Copyright 2012 - The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.