Com­mit­tee re­jects bids for new skatepark

High bids likely due to west coast bid­ders

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Dan Sokil dsokil@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Dan­sokil on Twit­ter

LANS­DALE >> Plans for a new skate park in Lans­dale have hit an­other de­lay.

Bor­ough coun­cil’s Parks and Re­cre­ation com­mit­tee voted unan­i­mously Wed­nes­day night to re­ject the lat­est set of bids on the skate park project, af­ter costs came in far higher than es­ti­mated.

“It was con­sid­er­ably more — enough so that we think we can do bet­ter,” said coun­cil mem­ber Mary Fuller.

“One of the big­gest drivers in the high bids was that, with the spec­i­fi­ca­tion that we have, all the bids came from the west coast, which dras­ti­cally added a lot of costs,” she said.

Coun­cil and the Parks and Re­cre­ation com­mit­tee, which Fuller chairs, have dis­cussed since early 2016 the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing a park for skaters some­where in town, and have spent more than two years eval­u­at­ing sites, se­lect­ing a spot ad­ja­cent to Fourth Street Park, then hir­ing a de­sign con­sul­tant and ar­chi­tect while hold­ing meet­ings to gather feed­back and re­fine a de­sign.

“This is your baby,” Bor­ough Man­ager John Ernst said to Fuller

as the two dis­cussed the project.

“And what a long la­bor it is with this baby,” she replied.

A first round of bid­ding fell through ear­lier this year when no re­sponses were re­ceived, and staff said that was due to a tight time­line push­ing to fin­ish the park some­time in 2018. A sec­ond bid at­tempt asked con­trac­tors to do the work over the course of 2019, and that sec­ond bid at­tempt did pro­duce three bid­ders, Fuller said Wed­nes­day night, but none from lo­cal com­pa­nies, due to the strict cri­te­ria of prior projects re­quired in the bid spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

“One of the is­sues is based on the pa­ram­e­ters, the qual­i­fi­ca­tions, spec­i­fi­ca­tions, that we put for­ward. It se­verely lim­ited the num­ber of peo­ple who could bid on this project,” Fuller said.

‘If we re­vise the bid pack­age some, and we also po­ten­tially phase or split up the bid pack­age a lit­tle bit, we can get more lo­cal bids that we can ac­cept,” she said.

Early es­ti­mates have put the cost of the skate park at roughly $500,000, with half to be cov­ered by state grant funds the bor­ough has got­ten autho­riza­tion to ex­tend into 2019, and the rest from a de­vel­oper’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Madi­son Park­ing Lot apart­ment project. Ernst and Fuller de­clined to give a spe­cific num­ber, but said the bid re­sults were, in his words, “enough for us to con­sider re­ject­ing”

Ernst said staff’s early thoughts are to split the prior bid pack­age up into three com­po­nents: one for the con­struc­tion of the skate park it­self, an­other for the stormwa­ter man­age­ment fea­tures in­clud­ing a rain gar­den ad­ja­cent to the planned park area, and a third for land­scap­ing.

“As we started to look at the over­all bids for the skate park, we re­al­ized that it was a premium that was be­ing paid to have com­pa­nies from the West Coast mo­bi­lize on the East Coast, in terms of pro­vid­ing staffing and equip­ment,” Ernst said.

“One of the specs re­quired that the com­pany needed to pro­vide a spe­cific num­ber of ex­am­ples of com­pa­ra­ble size, maybe four or five, within a cer­tain time frame. One of the things we are look­ing at do­ing would be maybe to re­duce that num­ber of projects in that time frame,” Ernst said.

Do­ing so could al­low more lo­cal firms with some, but less, ex­pe­ri­ence bid on the project, since fewer skate parks tend to be built on the east coast due to longer win­ter weather pe­ri­ods, Fuller and Ernst said.

“We’re not com­pro­mis­ing the project, we’re not com­pro­mis­ing the de­sign, but we feel if we re­lax a few spec­i­fi­ca­tions, we can put this out to bid, and get some more lo­cal re­turns,” Fuller said.

“And some pre­lim­i­nary re­search has in­di­cated that will, in fact, hap­pen,” she said.

Ersnt said staff are aim­ing to have the three sep­a­rate bid pack­ages ready by the end of 2018 or early 2019, which should present no prob­lems with us­ing the grant money by the endof-2019 dead­line to do so.

“I’m com­mit­ted to this project. I’m com­mit­ted to get­ting it done, as close to what we’ve pre­sented as pos­si­ble,” Fuller said.

“By look­ing at it in a dif­fer­ent way, and just be­cause of the way the bid­ding process works, I think this is our best so­lu­tion, to get in the end the best prod­uct that we want, as close as pos­si­ble to the price we were hop­ing,” she said.

The Parks com­mit­tee unan­i­mously voted to re­ject the three bids, and Ernst sug­gested the com­mit­tee wait on au­tho­riz­ing staff to pre­pare a new bid pack­age un­til they and the bor­ough’s en­gi­neer­ing firm fin­ish eval­u­at­ing re­sponses and de­vel­op­ing new pa­ram­e­ters.

“We’ll have a lot of an­swers to ques­tions that will come up as part of that — ‘What are we re­bid­ding?’ We will try, but I can’t guar­an­tee it’ll be done by next month,” he said.

Ernst said staff will also con­tact the firms that did re­spond to see if any of the work can be done by in-house staff, since staff did do some stormwa­ter man­age­ment work at the bor­ough mu­nic­i­pal com­plex on Ninth Street when staff of­fices were tem­po­rar­ily lo­cated there.

“De­pend­ing on which stormwa­ter man­age­ment sys­tems we choose to pur­sue, it could be just the cre­ation of a rain gar­den, to help mit­i­gate stormwa­ter (flow), as op­posed to deep trench con­struc­tion and ty­ing in” wa­ter lines, Ernst said.

“There’s a po­ten­tial that bor­ough staff could help de­fray the costs for that con­struc­tion. Then, we’re not pay­ing pre­vail­ing wage for some re­sources we would have to use any­way — those are the type of things we’re start­ing to eval­u­ate,” he said.

Bor­ough coun­cil next meets at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 and the Parks and Re­cre­ation com­mit­tee next meets at 8 p.m. on Dec. 5, both at the bor­ough mu­nic­i­pal build­ing, 1 Vine St.

SITE PLAN COUR­TESY OF LANS­DALE BOR­OUGH

This over­head view shows pro­posed land­scap­ing im­prove­ments to be added around the planned skate park ad­ja­cent to Fourth Street Park in Lans­dale.

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