Park projects back on track, with cut costs

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Members of the Ridgecrest City Council and city staff were somewhat dismayed earlier this year when all bids for improving Upjohn and Pearson parks were thrown out because of a technical error. But this error appears to have resulted in a potential cost saving for the project.

The council voted Wednesday to approve a purchase contract with RecWest/Landscape Structures for the project rather than send it out for bid again. The estimated cost of $485,000 is nearly $100,000 lower than the least expensive estimate from the previous bid “without sacrificing quality or quantity of equipment,” according to the council agenda.

Councilmember Lindsey Stephens discovered the purchase contract alternative to the bid process while revisiting the project with the Quality of Life Committee.

According to Stephens, the process allowed the city to choose from playground equipment manufacturing and installation companies that have already undergone a bidding process. And contracting with a company that manufactures and installs its own equipment could possibly save the city tens of thousands of dollars.

Original bids ranged from roughly $560-730 thousand, but the new contract is not to exceed $500 thousand.

Stephens reported that the city is “still ironing out a few details,” but the project is still anticipated to come in at less than the allocated $620 thousand in Tax Allocation Bond funds.

Both parks will be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act with "engineered wood fiber" turf like that found in Petroglyph Park.

Stephens said the graffiti-resistant structures have a life expectancy of 20-30 years, and the poles and foundation can be reused for retrofitting.

“Next time we need to redo our parks, it will be much cheaper because the pole installation is the expensive part,” she said.

“I think Linsdey needs to really be commended for her efforts here,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mower, who voiced his pleasure with cutting costs on the project.

Council unanimously approved the proposal in addition to terminating an agreement with HLA Engineering and Land Surveying to rebid the project.

Audience member Mike Neel raised the question of why Stephens was personally dedicating her time to this project.

“I don’t see any reason why these savings couldn’t have been obtained by the staff we have at the city who are paid full time to take care of these issues,” said Neel. “They get paid to do it. They ought to make the time to get these things done.”

He added that terminating an agreement with a consultant like HLA was “one of the best decisions council has made.”

Council also revisited the bid proposal for the Kerr McGee ballpark. The three bids came in ranging from $2.7 to 3.1 million dollars, well over HLA’s $1.7 million estimate.

“I would like to rethink how we’re going about this,” said Stephens.

She suggested that the city pursue a similar purchase contract approach and handle different tasks — like fencing, concrete, lighting, etc. — separately. She added that local contractors would also have a better chance at being eligible for smaller, more specific contracts, and that it could save money.

Other members of council agreed with an approach that saved money and gave local companies a chance at the contracts, but City Engineer Loren Culp also warned that piecing the contracts out for a large contract can prove to be troublesome.

Taking into account “all the moving parts,” he said, requires a tremendous amount of planning, coordinating schedules, and processing invoices from multiple agencies and significantly increases the chances of delays.

Council approved a look into the purchasing contracts before putting a project out for bid a second time.

The council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be on Wednesday, May 3.

Story First Published: 2017-04-21