|Pittsfield Council Asked To Contribute More Toward Clapp Park Project|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
02:31AM / Friday, April 19, 2019
|The park is still poised for significant upgrades but needs more money from the City Council.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After bids came in too high twice, the City Council is being asked to up the city's contribution toward the renovation of Clapp Park.
The city had received a $400,000 state grant to undertake a massive restoration of the West Housatonic Street park. That was matched by city funds for bathrooms, the community preservation act funding, $180,000 donation from the Rotary Club, and a $5,000 donation from Carr Hardware.
But, it is not enough. Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jim McGrath said the project is about $150,000 underfunded after the most recent bids were opened. The project has to be done by the end of June or else the city will lose its starting funding for it. The project had already been scaled back once in a cost-cutting measure and the decision has been made to ask the City Council to cover the difference.
"This allows the whole project to move forward comprehensively and the way it was designed," McGrath said.
The focus on the park started with the formation of a Buddy Pellerin Field Committee. That group organized an effort to rename the baseball field, which is home for the Pittsfield High Generals, after the former coach. From there, they've began raising money and making improvements to the field. The group has a multi-year vision to completely transform the field.
The Rotary Club then joined in. In celebration of its 100th year, the group voted to donate $180,000 to build a splash pad at Clapp Park. The city brought those funding sources together and applied, and received, the state grant. The City Council would later approve another $150,000 to be used to renovate the bathrooms at the park.
"That was a critical part of the project," McGrath said of the restrooms.
McGrath said he wasn't sure why the bids on the project came in over budget twice. The design put to bid was already scaled back from the original vision and McGrath said it seems that bids have been coming in higher than expected more frequently now.
"I don't know what the reasoning is all I know is we have a project we are trying to execute and we don't have enough funding," McGrath said.
The City Council is now being asked to increase the capital authorization by $325,000 and then rescind the $150,000 eyed specifically for the bathrooms. The bathrooms aren't being removed from the project but rather the funds for the entire project are being consolidated into one authorization.
That move will give the $150,000 or so needed to complete the project plus a little extra for contingency should an issue be discovered during construction.
"Any time you start scratching into the ground and working on the subsurface, there are always unknowns," McGrath said, later adding,"if we don't need all of that money, we won't use all of that money."
The city had hoped to have the project's contract awarded already and the timeline is getting tighter. McGrath said the deadline for the state funds is June 30.
"We risk losing the $400,000 reimbursement," McGrath said.
The timeline now is to get the contract awarded and work started in early May. The work on the baseball field would be done last, allowing for the high school team to finish the season on the field.
"We can get this project in in the course of two months," McGrath said.
Mountain View Landscape was the sole bidder on the project this time with a price of $672,750. That price, however, is just for the base work, McGrath said. He said the city will also be purchasing the playground equipment, splash pad parts, player benches, and other materials for the work on their own. Nor does that price include a buffer should there be problems.
McGrath said he isn't happy that the department is in the position to have to ask the council for more money but he believes the councilors will see the value in the project.
"I have confidence that the council likes the project and will back the project," he said.
The City Council will field the request at its meeting Tuesday evening.