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After bids for their new boardwalk came back $68,000 higher than their project budget, the city of Riverside is looking for ways to fund the project.

Riverside’s city council has rejected all bids for construction of a boardwalk at Riverside Landing.

Even the low bid of $128,000 was more than the city has available to spend on the project, according to Mayor Rusty Jessup.  “What we’re going to try to do now is be our own contractor, buy the material ourselves, and ask for bids for labor only to see if we can get it affordable,” he said.

Only $50,000 in grant money remains for the boardwalk project, which is the first of four phases of improvements to the landing.  Subsequent phases are set to involve paving the parking lot, landscaping, restrooms and cosmetic repairs to the old depot building.

“We may have to go on to a different phase of the project now instead of later and come back and get the boardwalk later under another grant, if it’s really going to cost that much to do,” Jessup said, adding that the city plans to apply for grants annually until the entire Riverside Landing project is completed.

The city is also considering buying its sewer system from the independent contractor currently providing the service.

“There are good points and bad points,” Jessup said.  “Historically, cities have not done well with sewer systems, but if a system is managed right, it can be a very beneficial service.  The good thing about owning the sewer system is that it does generate cash flow, and cash flow would allow us to leverage these assets into expansion and/or productivity.”

A city-owned sewer system would also be a boon to the Riverside Landing project, according to the mayor.  “If we are ever going to realize the full potential of the investment the city has made in Riverside Landing, we’ve got to have sewer there.”

Riverside’s council is expected to hire the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to redraw district lines prior to the next municipal election.  Population totals from the 2010 census show a 30 percent increase, boosting Riverside’s status from a town to a city and requiring council districts to be realigned.

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