The St. Clair Board of Aldermen approved a contract Monday night with Jay Rice Contracting to clear brush at the former site of the airport.

The area between the runway and Interstate 44 will be cleared.

City Administrator Travis Dierker said the project was budgeted for this year. Jay Rice Contracting was the lowest bidder at $19,875.

Dierker noted the bid came in under budget.

Approximately 2,970 feet will be cleared of trees less than 4 inches in diameter, debris and undergrowth, according to the board packet. Vegetation within 5 feet of the stream bank will be left alone and vegetative materials will be cut down to no larger than 4 inches.

The board packet states that trees, debris and undergrowth will either be chopped, mulched, spread among the site or be removed. Any part of the ground that is disturbed will be seeded and mulched, and current city stormwater ordinances will be followed.

Alderman Art Viehland asked why brush larger than four inches or bigger cannot be taken down.

Public Works Director Jason Ivie said that the area is governed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the organization has guidelines on what can and cannot be removed.

“That creek or ditch, or whatever you want to call it over there, has a high-water mark, so that is considered to be a navigable waterway and is therefore governed by the Corps of Engineers,” Ivie said. “Their specification was everything four inches or larger has to stay.”

Viehland asked how invasive plants will be handled, including honeysuckles and Bradford pears, which could grow back if they are not taken care of properly.

“If there’s honeysuckle in there or if there’s invasive Bradford pears in there, and they cut that off, instead of having one sprout coming up, you’re going to have dozens in the future,” he said.

Ivie said he was sent a list of herbicides to use that can be sprayed to eliminate honeysuckle and other invasive plants.

“From my experience, it has to be done immediately once it’s cut. If it dries over, the herbicide won’t work,” Viehland said.

He also asked Ivie if those plants can be removed even if they are larger than 4 inches.

Ivie replied that it’s his understanding any invasive plants can be removed because some of the honeysuckles are 10-12 inches at the base.

Alderwoman Janet Viehland asked if the clearing will need to happen annually.

“Hopefully once we get it cut down, we can keep it under control better with a brush hog once or twice a year,” Ivie said.

Jay Rice Contracting is scheduled to start work May 13 with a finish date of July 12.

Other Bids

The city received four other bids including Gaehle Grading, LLC for $36,630, Jerry Landing for $34,000, Matt Girardier, Excavating for $23,800 and Tubbs and Sons Construction for $24,995.