Finishing Culpepper Park may cost more than expected

BY Jan Murray jmurray@southeastsun.com

Finishing Culpepper Park may cost more than expected
Community Development Director at Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission Scott Farmer told the mayor and council members that time is pressing for submission for Land and Water Conservation funding for a new concession stand, restrooms, and press box building. All will be part of the same two-story building.Farmer said all paperwork has to be submitted to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs by Jan. 6, 2017. The clincher is the estimated costs of the project are much higher than original estimates. Farmer said the project was first estimated at $250,000-275,000, but new figures from the project architect totals $429,283. He said the city can apply for the LWC matching grant of $150,000 and if that is awarded then the city’s part would be in the neighborhood of $279,000 with the current estimates.Mayor Jayme Stayton, along with all council members, stated the cost is too much for the city and the project engineers need to go back to the architect and come back with small numbers and take into consideration what city employees could contribute to bring the costs down to something the city can manage.Allen Killen, project engineer with Civil Southeast Engineering Group in Andalusia, said a lot of work was completed before the burn ban and now frequent rains that are occurring. He said drainage— a major project in the field at Culpepper—has been taken care of by the construction of a retention pond. “The drainage is working as it should,” he said explaining that there will still be wet areas just outside the new ball fields and water will slowly drain from the detention pond down through the woods.“The good thing now is that everything is working as it should work. The contractor is aware that he has to come back and pretty it up again (lay sod),” Killen said.The engineer also gave a timetable of recent events for the project:            *Project’s original estimate $555,750            *Project began Sept. 6 with a bid of $468,788            *Groundbreaking was held Sept. 8            *Drainage portion was completed Oct. 21            *Concrete portion completed Oct. 28            *Finished re-spreading topsoil and grading Nov. 10However, Killen said, the project is at a standstill due to recent heavy rains and the soil being too wet. In recent days the Water Department determined the job of placing some 100 sprinkler heads and control systems was too big of a job for it, so the Water Board on Dec. 14 authorized a contract with Geneva Grass Company, Inc. to not only lay the sod for the project but also install the sprinkler head system at a cost of $11,500.“I’m hoping that by the end of January (Jan. 20) we will have that irrigation system in,” Killen said. “I’m hoping that by the second week of February (Feb 10) we will have all the fencing up…Once the fencing goes up, they’ll be able to put all the sod on the fields. They’ll seed all the outfield and they’ll retouch all the topsoil…So hopefully, by March 1…this project will be substantially complete.”The council decided they would remove the need for resolution to support the project at current estimated costs at the Dec. 20 council meeting until the engineers can bring back lower figures.Killen summarized the project costs thus far:            *The city has paid $259,249 to date of the $468,788 or 55 percent*Additional costs added, thus far, total $11,500 for sprinkler head installation and paid for   by the city Water and Sewer Board.*Proposing brick dust at a cost of $22,400 for all four fields*Sod for $1,700*In-field preparation and grading for $3,200*Killen said lighting costs is still an issue for the council to consider.In other discussion during the work session, the repair of the large gully near the city bus barn is also at a standstill due to weather, but should be completed within the next couple of weeks, depending on weather.Also, Mayor Stayton told the council that 12 applications for the position of Director of Public Safety have been received and that he, former Chief and City Council Member Jimmy Seaton and current Councilman Bobby Hardrick, will soon begin reviewing those and interviewing for the position. The mayor said he hopes to have an appointment recommendation by the Jan. 17 council meeting.
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