By Lucas Vader
The West Legacy Park project, which was originally supposed to be complete in its entirety by May, has been complicated even further, Delta Public Works Director Betsy Suerth told the Delta City Council at the July 21 meeting.
Though this is not the first time the project has been delayed by unforeseen circumstances, this is the first time it has been delayed by an inaccurate designer estimate on the first phase of the project’s cost.
While the designer had estimated that phase one would cost about $200,000, the two bids that came back for the contract were $399,651 and $399,968. According to Suerth, the fact that the two bids are only $317 apart indicates that neither bid is unreasonable for the project.
“That tells us that they’re probably fair, reasonable bids, that two very separate bidders bid the same amount, basically,” Suerth said. “So obviously the estimate was off, way off, and why, we don’t really know.”
Previously, the West Legacy Park project had already been reworked to take place over the course of two different phases. This was due to an unexpected issue in which the north wall of the site was deemed unstable and would need to be essentially replaced. That extra cost split the process into two phases for budgetary reasons, so that a few extra amenities of the pocket park, including restrooms, would be put off until 2021.
With that in consideration, the phase one bids that staff have received still exceed the 2020 budget.
The Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) budget which the city received to assist with the project has a remaining $147,905, but the city did budget more than just the grant amount. According to Suerth’s report, the city has about $270,000 in unencumbered funds budgeted for phase one, meaning that the project would need an additional approximate $70,000 to complete phase one as it is currently bid.
Therefore, Suerth came before council with three options for the city council, all of which were compiled by city staff.
The first option was to enter into negotiation on the project, as is specified in city code. CRS 31-15-712 states that “If no bids are received or if, in the opinion of the city council, all bids received are too high, the city may enter into negotiations concerning the contract. No negotiated price shall exceed the lowest responsible bid previously received.”
This was later specified to mean that the city would potentially cut costs in logical ways to ensure that the park still happens but with changes such as thinner concrete. Suerth mentioned to council that it had already determined that the contractor’s plan showed concrete that was potentially thicker than it needs to be.
“Staff believes that value engineering items could reduce the bid amount by $50,000 to $60,000, while still keeping the essence of the project scope intact,” Suerth’s report stated. “Should council choose this alternative, staff will immediately begin negotiations to keep the project moving forward.”
The second and third options both rely primarily on completing critical tasks that need to be done no matter what. These tasks include the removal of an improper aerial beam and the facing and weather sealing of the north wall.
Option two is to reject both bids and to assemble a bid package to take care of only the critical items. After that point, continuation on the project would not happen until next year.
The third option was, as Suerth went into it, likely the least desirable, but staff had felt an obligation to present it as an option nevertheless. That option was to do the same as the second option recommended but then to proceed with “bare minimum improvements such as grading the surface, laying down road base/gravel, and placing park benches and trash cans,” essentially to fall within the budget.
“This is the most radical alternative, and not in keeping with the community’s expectations nor the Council’s original goals,” Suerth said in the report.
At this, Mayor Nathan Clay spoke up, stating he was disappointed in the further complication but his blame did not lie with city staff. Furthermore, he emphasized the last thing he would want was for the pocket park to end up as an anticlimactic, disappointing conclusion after all the time and anticipation that has gone into it.
Ultimately, the council did choose the first option, which will allow Suerth’s staff to go forward and negotiate plans and prices with the bidder they have chosen.
After that point, Suerth will have to return to council in order for it to approve or not approve whatever modified bid staff recommends to it at that time.