Details of a contract have stalled the choice of a contractor and the groundbreaking originally targeted for this month for the long-awaited Acreage Community Park southern expansion.
The contract, which was set for approval on March 16 by the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors, was postponed until supervisors could get more information about costs that they thought were too high.
“We have not awarded the contract yet,” ITID Manager Jim Shallman told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “That has been pushed off for the last two months, so we’ve been looking at different options. Some of its components that came back were a little more than the board had anticipated. We’re trying to work through those issues now, and we’re pretty close. All the permitting and everything is ready.”
The low bid of $3,389,889 was by Rosso Site Development.
At the March 16 meeting, engineer Gene Schriner of Craig A. Smith & Associates said he thought that the cost of the three buildings on the site totaling $551,437 might be high, and that some expenses could be reduced or eliminated if the board desired.
“If you want to eliminate some of these items right off the bat and have somebody else do it, for example the buildings, I think they are a little excessive,” he said. “If we want to eliminate them from the bid, I’m sure the bidder would not have an objection to that.”
He said other items in the bid could not be eliminated because they are necessary to the function and the actual development of the park.
ITID President Carol Jacobs said she was originally for a community center at the park, which was eliminated after it became too expensive, due to cost-cutting efforts after Tropical Storm Isaac flooding caused a change of focus by the district at the time.
“We’re doing the park now, which seems to be coming out to the same amount of money,” Jacobs said, adding that she believes there are local small contractors who could do the work for less money. “We can pay as we go. They do this, they get paid.”
She added that the bathrooms could be redesigned so the women’s and men’s facilities are back-to-back and less expensive.
“We’re all not millionaires out here in The Acreage,” Jacobs said. “We all want a park, but there’s a cheaper way of doing it. I want this park done before I’m off this board, but I want this bid thrown out.”
Supervisor Michelle Damone said a project manager would have to be hired if they decide to do different parts of the project using subcontractors.
Jacobs asked why, if they weren’t ready to build yet, they couldn’t just pursue another bid. She said that she had explored the way other municipalities did projects, including Royal Palm Beach, and suggested that they manage projects less expensively.
Damone asked that Schriner research Royal Palm Beach’s methods and report back to the board. “That way, we don’t throw this out,” Damone said.
She added that County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has pledged to get the planned community center built if the proposed one-cent sales tax passes.
Supervisor Gary Dunkley questioned how the park expansion will really help the community and was concerned that they were spending large amounts of money to develop land that is leased by the district from the county.
ITID Attorney Mary Viator explained that the county had acquired the property through a state trust fund, which does not allow the sale of the property.
Dunkley added that ITID was going to have to pay to maintain the park, and the cost had escalated almost to the $4 million they were looking at for the plan including the community center.
Damone said the 16-year history of the park project had been convoluted with the election of new supervisors who did not understand what had gone on before they got on the board.
Dunkley said he thought that the board should focus more on infrastructure improvements, drainage and equipment, which he said were more important than the park.
Damone made a motion to postpone approval until April so staff could get more information about the bid and how to reduce costs.
The motion carried 3-2, with Dunkley and Supervisor Jennifer Hager opposed.
ABOVE: The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors.