Construction on Phase 1A of a project at Royal Lane Park will begin in earnest now that a contractor is on the job. After an inflated round of bids initially, and a second round that was still well over the budget, city officials expressed the need to do the renovation the right way even if it meant more money.
As part of a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant that was awarded to the City of Clinton, work will take place in four phases, with the first phase to include a new playground for ages 5-12, an area of swings, a tot lot, a paved quarter-mile walking trail, a 400-meter walking and a running track around an expanded multipurpose field. Additionally, there will be a new parking lot between the pool and multipurpose field, a new park sign and an entrance to the new parking lot off Ellen Street.
The first round of bids for the PARTF project came in over $200,000 over budget. In-house work began last month after city staff proposed some in-house work to offset contractor costs. The second round of bids, while not as inflated, were still well over budget, Council members were told at a recent meeting. The city revised its requests for proposals to include alternates and removed some elements of the project to be completed in-house.
Bids were still above budget by about $112,000.
“We did make some revisions,” said recreation director Jonathan Allen, “but it was over budget again.”
The total project is $500,000. The recent round of bids came in with a low bid — base and other options — of $612,372.10.
Allen proposed a way to meet that amount, requesting that $25,000 be taken from the current 2016-17 budget, $37,000 from the 2017-18 budget and $50,000 fund balance, totaling the $112,000 necessary to meet the difference. City staff recommended awarding the bid to Wells Brothers with a base bid of $447,372.10. The alternate bids would increase that to the $612,000 amount, which would bring six lanes to the track and half of the proposed parking increase — at 48 spaces, as opposed to 96.
Allen said the parking lot proposed would be gravel. Asphalt would cost an additional $37,000 with the sidewalk, the recreation director noted. The City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the full amount for an asphalt parking lot.
Mayor Lew Starling was adamant that he wanted to see the expanded parking be in the form of a paved lot.
“I’d rather pave it, I’d rather pave it, I’d rather pave it,” the mayor repeated.
“We’re doing a first-class job on this and we’re nickel-diming this thing,” said Councilman Steve Stefanovich. “This is a $1 million-plus project. If we’re going to do this right, let’s do it right for all these folks and not nickle-dime it.”
“This is a gem in the city’s crown, there’s no doubt about that,” he continued. “All of us have raised our children there and will continue to. We want to do this right.”
Public Works director Jeff Vreugdenhil said there may be options to include portions of the parking lot segment in the city’s paving contract to further cut costs.
“We have until December 2018 to finish the project, per the grant,” said City manager Shawn Purvis, noting that budgetary decisions did not have to be made immediately. “Our reserves are fine.”
Overall, the multi-million dollar Royal Lane master plan calls for a reorganization and addition of multipurpose fields, the reorganization of baseball and softball fields into a four-wagon-wheel design, consolidating and renovating playgrounds and adding more landscaping, parking, sidewalks and trails throughout to provide better flow around the park. An addition to the Bellamy Center will house the main office and additional activity rooms, as well as another gym.
Starling expressed his desire to do the project right “the first time around,” echoing his belief that spending money on the front end would save any funds expended to correct or modify the job down the road. Others agreed, also noting that costs could go up.
“Costs are not going to go down,” Vreugdenhil said.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.