FERGUSON TOWNSHIP — Bids for initial construction at the first of three new regional parks came in shockingly high, which means officials have to consider options to cut costs or raise revenue.
This was a blow to us to see these numbers and add them up, director of Centre Region Parks and Recreation Ron Woodhead told officials Thursday.
Woodhead presented to the Parks and Recreation Authority and Council of Governments Parks Capital Committee the results of four bid items for the Oak Hall Regional Park, planned for a site in College and Harris townships bids for the general site construction, buildings, plumbing and electric work.
All four items include base bids, plus costs for optional add-on or deducted features, making the total bids dependent on which of those officials choose.
However, Woodhead showed the cost considering only base bids, including proposed deductions for the park buildings, and the cost of a boundary fence, required by the College Township land development plan.
With only the basics and costs such as permits, COG-furnished benches and design work, Oak Halls first phase of construction would cost about $4.1 million, nearly a $500,000 over the $3.6 million budget.
Using only the base bids already removes items from the park plan, including lights at one softball field, scoreboards for the other three fields, upgraded fencing and air conditioning in the press box.
Woodhead offered a list of options for closing the remaining $493,000 gap and asked parks officials to mull them over. The authority meets next Thursday, and discussion will continue on how to proceed.
Cost-reduction options include postponing the press box building for $170,000, postponing the fourth ball field for $180,000, not hiring a construction manager for $40,000 to $50,000, and postponing foul line fencing on three of the fields for $75,000.
Im purposefully not suggesting that we reject all bids, Woodhead said. If we have to bid this again, were paying our consultants again. Were better trying to work with this at this point.
Woodhead also offered options to increase revenue, which he acknowledged would be less than popular, including sharing the common design fees with Oak Hall and the Whitehall Road Regional Park, fundraising or sponsorship for park amenities, further contributions from the host municipality, and field naming rights.
This can happen, Woodhead said of moving forward with the park. We have some homework to do.
Based on a worst-case scenario of re-bidding the project, Woodhead said park construction still could begin next April.
Officials made few comments Thursday and are tasked with studying the options. College Township Councilman Dan Klees said that, when officials criticize a cost-saving option, they better follow up with a different way to meet the savings needs.
We have a huge challenge in front of us, he said. The goal is still worthy, we just have to figure out how to get there.