City awards bid for Doodle Park

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — The city of Easley’s newest park is moving forward.

City council members voted last Monday during their September meeting to award a construction contract to J. Davis Construction of Westminster.

“We only received one bid,” mayor Larry Bagwell said.

During the meeting, city administrator Stephen Steese said the project was estimated to cost about $500,000. The city has received a $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission toward the project, which Easley will match dollar-for-dollar, he said.

The city’s portion of funding will come from proceeds from Easley’s hospitality tax. The park will be located off Fleetwood Drive. City officials hope the one-acre park will be ready for use by Memorial Day 2017.

The city is looking at cutting some costs for the project prior to moving forward with construction, as the bid came in over budget, Steese said.

“Part of the problem is we only have one bidder,” Steese said. “If they don’t reduce the cost down, we either have the choice to continue forward with them or go back out to bid.”

Options to bring the costs down could involve the train cars that officials plan to bring to the site to highlight the Doodle Trail’s former life as a railroad.

“This cost does not include the renovations of the train cars — that was a separate item,” he said. “But it does include the finishing of the train cars and placing them on site. So we may look at removing those items from the bid as a way to get the cost down, then look at maybe putting money in the budget for next year to move forward with getting the cars placed on site.”

That option would require some tweaking of the site plans, as one of the railroad cars was going to house the park’s restrooms, Steese said.

“We would have to look at some other options,” he said. “Look to see if there’s something cheaper, whether it’s building something that looks like a train depot and then moving the train car in later or look at something temporary until we have more funds.”

Renovating the two train cars would cost nearly $100,000, Steese said.

Council members want the project to stay on schedule, but expressed concern about the train cars.

“That’s going to be the showcase of the park,” councilman Kent Dykes said.

“I think the city of Pickens is ready for us to move them,” Bagwell said. “Pickens has been very nice to us. When you’re in a joint project like this, you need to make sure that everybody is happy.”

Another cost-cutting option is taking the public shelter out of the plans until more funding is available.

“We might could get the footings poured and then come back later and put the building in there,” Steese said. “That’s some of the items we’re going to talk with them about … to get an idea of what is the least impactful that will get us down closer to within the budget of what the grant was.”

The contract will include the grading, the crossings, a parking area, a playground, a public building and an exercise area, Steese said.

“Most of the cost is tied up in the grading and the parking lot,” he said.

Council members questioned why the resolution was before them when options and tweaks were still under discussion.

“I don’t quite understand why we brought this to light tonight,” Bagwell said.

Steese said the resolution allowed the project to be awarded.

“If we do not have this, then we cannot award for another month,” he said.

Councilman Jim Robinson asked if there was a time frame to use the grant money. Steese said negotiations should not impact use of grant funds.

The goal is to get the project within that original $500,000 estimate, he said.

Council voted unanimously to award the contract.