Hartford council OKs $200K contract to create new downtown parking
House to be demolished at Mill Street, Park Avenue for new lot

By Joe VanDeLaarschot

Aug. 28, 2019

Cars are parked in a gravel surfaced parking lot Tuesday morning next to a home in Hartford that the city purchased earlier this month to be made into a parking lot. The home and trees will be demolished and removed and then made into a city-owned parking lot. The gravel parking area will also have an asphalt surface to make the area all for parking spaces. The home is at the corner of Mill Street and Park Avenue with the Jack Russell Memorial Library directly behind it.
Joe VanDeLaarschot/Daily News Staff

HARTFORD — In just a few minutes, the Common Council on Tuesday night approved action that some council members said they had hoped to see take place for nearly 10 years.

In a unanimous vote, the council approved a contract for about $208,000 with Wondra Construction of Iron Ridge to demolish an old home on a lot at the corner of Mill Street and Park Avenue, level and grade the site and then construct a new parking lot for customers of nearby downtown businesses. “The bid came in much higher than we expected,” said City Engineer Jason Schall. “But as part of the contract Wondra Construction agreed to work with the city to complete a change order, reducing the total project cost by about $33,000.”

Officials said the project had originally been estimated at about $95,000. The price could still be reduced because some site work could be done by city workers, thus reducing the work required by Wondra workers which would reduce the cost. Schall said the bid may have come in much higher than expected because many companies are busy now with other jobs and have difficulty adding business to their schedules at this time of the year.

“I had thought about us waiting and rebidding the demolition and the parking lot construction under two separate contracts,” said Alderman Wayne Rusniak. “But when I got to the final line of the proposal and read that all of the costs could be reimbursed by the TIF 10 because the project is within its borders, I thought they we should go ahead with the costs and contract as proposed.”

After the police and fire departments conduct training drills in the old home on the site in the first week of September, construction workers could move in and begin demolishing the home and garage. City workers will also begin to cut down trees and remove brush from the lot. Officials hope the new parking lot can be completed with a new asphalt surface by around Nov. 1.

The purchase of the property will be divided between the city, the downtown BID group, the Cobblestone Hotel and the Mineshaft Restaurant.

City Administrator Steve Volkert said earlier the new lot will give the city about 42 additional parking spaces and with the spaces available in the adjacent gravel covered lot, owned by Mineshaft owner Tom Masters, there should be a total of 86 parking stalls. Part of the agreement with the hotel is that eight stalls are to be reserved for overnight parking by hotel customers. As part of the deal, Masters’ parking lot will also receive an asphalt surface and be painted to indicate parking stalls.

Increased parking for downtown customers was one of several goals included in the city’s downtown redevelopment plan that was put into motion about three years ago. Officials believed if the project could not be completed this year the new parking lot would not be available for use until about June 1 — a date they felt was too late to cause any other delays now.