Bids high; Beaty work delayed

The start of construction for the Beaty Park improvement project could run later into the summer, or potentially 2014, after council unanimously decided to reject all bids at its Monday meeting.

City Engineer Doug Sceiford said bids were received on March 6 and the budgeted amount for the project is $155,000.

All of the bids came in higher than that amount.

City administration recommended council reject all bids and rebid the project with a “scenario of alternatives,” according to Sceiford.

The project was planned to feature new basketball hoops and backboards, new blacktop on the basketball court and three tennis courts, a concrete pad for bleachers, 130 linear feet of limestone pathway connecting the existing handicapped accessible path to the basketball and tennis facilities, as well as upgrades to fencing and lighting.

Sceiford outlined a couple of the alternatives.

He explained the original specifications entailed “rais(ing) the basketball court so it isn’t under water periodically.” An alternative would be to just repave, but not raise, the court. On the tennis side, one alternative, he said, could be to dig out all of the cracks that are at least one inch wide, fill each crack and then top coat the entire surface.

The original project design would also be rebid with the hope of receiving lower bids the second time around.

Council Vice President Maurice Cashman asked if the delay would push the project “out of construction season.”

“No. If we bring this back in June…the paving plants are open into (the fall),” Sceiford said.

Mayor Mark Phillips asked why the bids came in higher than expected.

“(We) packed as much into that project as we possibly could,” potentially turning it into a $200,000 project, said Sceiford.

Should project cost be closer to $200,000, Sceiford said he “would anticipate that we would be enacting some type of the alternatives.” Either components of the project totaling $50,000 would need to be removed or the city could bump up its local share; but Sceiford said that he “didn’t think an appetite would be there for it.”

Phillips proposed exploring whether a “business, individual or family” would be willing to make a donation for the difference if a plaque was erected or their name was attached to the park “as a way to partner with the public or foundations or business that might help us achieve a better overall product.”

A state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant will provide $77,000, with an additional $25,000 coming from a local foundation. The city is on the hook for the rest, with $53,000 earmarked in the 2013 budget last December.

But upping the total cost of the project comes at a potential cost.

“DCNR would not respond as we would like” from a time perspective if the total cost was increased. “DCNR is always willing, but there is a one-to-one match,” Mike Holtz, Department of Public Works director, said, noting that the “repercussion is that you might not see it until 2014.”

Councilman Dr. Howard Ferguson noted that one of the bids was only approximately $8,800 over the budgeted amount. He asked if that bid could be approved subject to an additional commitment from a foundation for the remainder of the cost.

“Basically, we felt that basically that bid perhaps was out of sync with the rest of the bids,” Sceiford explained. “You have to determine that the bidder you have is a low, responsible bidder. (The) feeling of staff, (we) did not have a responsive bid in that bid.”

City Manager Nancy Freenock expanded on that bid, explaining that there was some concern “about the quality of the materials” and the potential need “to hire a project manager.” Referencing a certain type of gravel, she explained that “they (the low bidder) did not bid the amount we told them we were going to need. (That) made us a little bit uneasy.”

Rehabilitation of the Beaty Park area began in 2008 with new restrooms and storage facility, handicapped parking, Americans with Disabilities Act-approved playground equipment, and the development of accessible pathways connecting the various park features. The second phase of the Beaty Improvement Project included the addition of the skate park.

The Parks and Recreation Commission identified the project as a high priority in 2010.

Council has also received a $500 donation to be utilized for the new basketball court from the Friends of Warren Basketball.