With initial bids for construction of the first phase of the New River Parkway coming in at $700,000 and more over budget, Calexico is seeking ways to revive the stalled project. The city council on Sept. 4 voted 5-0 to reject the two bids that exceeded the $2 million available for the work. The decision also directed city officials to make changes to the project in an effort to get lower bids. Assistant City Manager Miguel Figueroa and Public Works Manager Liliana Falomir will lead that effort. “What we are requesting is that we go back now, make some minor tweaks to the RFP so that we could potentially have some bids come in at the budgeted amount we have, or even lower,” Figueroa told the council before the vote. Figueroa did not return emails or calls following the Sept. 4 meeting to clarify what those changes might be. In the initial call for bids in June, the city sought a construction company to manage and build the first phase of the project. That work included the first three-quarters of a mile of bicycle path/pedestrian walkway along a portion of the highly polluted river. Also included was landscaping, electrical work, site preparation, erosion control measures and stormwater/water-quality improvements, according to the original bid. On July 25, the city received two qualified bids. Pyramid Construction and Aggregate Inc. came in at about $2.7 million and Granite Construction Co. at about $3.2 million. No timeline was placed on the new bid effort. City officials have said they were hoping to see the first phase completed by summer 2020 and it was not immediately stated whether that goal could still be met. The New River, often cited as the most polluted in North America, originates in Mexico where it accumulates pollutants such as known carcinogens and raw sewage, and crosses the international border in Calexico. The river makes its way through the Imperial Valley before emptying into the Salton Sea north of Brawley. In other Calexico news, the City Council: Approved a $35,513 change order on a massive streets project in the process of being finalized. The change comes in response to citizens on Las Haciendas Avenue reaching out to the city’s Public Works Department to complain about “lots of standing water and cracked sidewalks,” Falomir told the council before its 5-0 vote. The change order adds curb, gutter, sidewalk and other road repairs to Las Haciendas. The work is being done by Hazard Construction Co. Approved a $60,000 consulting agreement 4-0 (council member Lewis Pacheco briefly stepped away while meeting continued) with Dotek LLC for planning services. City Manager David Dale told the council that since late 2018 the city has been searching for a qualified director for the planning and building department and has not been able to find one. In the interim, Dale said the city has been working with Dotek to provide planning services to the department. The $60,000 consulting agreement covers the time period of July 1 through June 30, 2020. Approved 5-0 a proposed budget amendment due to a payment of $103,500 from the state Department of Transportation for three city-owned parcels. Caltrans paid the city for them as part of its upcoming widening project on Highway 98 between Ollie and Rockwood avenues. The funds would be used for various city maintenance projects. Approved 5-0 a professional-services agreement between the city and 180 Solutions LLC for “telecommunications cost management and cost reductions,” according to information in the Sept. 4 meeting agenda. Dale told the council that with a city phone system that is more than 25 years old, 180 Solutions would come in and assist the city in eliminating a number of phone lines not being used. It would also identify other cost-saving measures and work with the current communications vendors to find and take advantage of cost-savings opportunities. The services agreement would not directly cost the city any upfront money. Rather, 180 Solutions would be paid 50 percent of any credits or refunds received by the city from the company’s efforts over the course of 24 months.