In a sign of the times, Minnetonka's little Shady Oak Pond is getting a lot of attention.

Sixteen contractors competed for the chance to relieve the unassuming drainage pond of built-up silt -- easily double the number of bidders that might have been interested in a robust economy, said City Engineer Lee Gustafson.

The result? "We're getting a great price,'' Gustafson said.

Bids ranged from $50,999 -- the low bid from Sunram Construction Inc. of Corcoran, which landed the job -- to nearly $126,000 from high bidder Kevitt Excavating LLC of Minneapolis.

The winning bid "is a sign of how bad the contractor really wants the work,'' Gustafson said. The city had estimated it would cost about $93,000 to get the dredging done. Eleven contractors bid under that price.

"One of the benefits of a downturn in the economy is that the city saves money in awarding these projects,'' said City Manager John Gunyou.

The dredging will remove decades of dirt carried into the pond by storm water running off streets.

The purpose of the 5,000-square-foot pond is to provide a place for dirt and pollutants to settle out of rain and snow melt before the water reaches Shady Oak Lake, Gustafson said.

"Shady Oak Lake is one of the most pristine water bodies in this area, so we want to do whatever we can to keep it that way.''

Renewing drainage ponds is one of many requirements Minnetonka and other metro cities face under a national storm water cleanup plan.

Gustafson expects the dredging to keep the pond functioning for 30 to 40 years.

The work is scheduled to start within the next two weeks and take two to three weeks to complete. Sunram plans to take the pond sediment to land it owns in Corcoran.

Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711