Hill Studio’s latest Elmwood Park rendering
City manager Chris Morrill reported that there were three local bids received for the Elmwood Park redo project. Out of the three, MB Contractors was selected.
At Monday’s Roanoke City council meeting Morrill gave an overview of what had transpired over the years but didn’t get into the years of heated council discussions and contentious elections that Roanokers still flash back to on occasion – especially when another project evokes the same familiar longevity.
Elections in 2006 brought down Victory Stadium. In its place was promised an overzealous amphitheater project at on the Reserve Avenue site a cost of $14.2 million. The newly elected “For the City” ticket of Dave Trinkle, Alfred Dowe and Gwen Mason made it a promise of their campaign. Trinkle is the only surviving member of that era.
Fast forwarding to 2011 and Roanokers instead have an Elmwood Park makeover project and scaled down amphitheater. A proposal initiated by the new city manager in 2010. Initially a Hill Studio study and design cost estimate was $300,000. That figure was bumped to $425,000 to include architectural and engineering documents.
After Morrill finished elaborating on all the amenities that the park renovation would include along with improved storm water drainage he dropped the construction cost bomb on city council. “The scope was getting quite large as we were hearing from people,” said Morrill. The once projected $3 to $4 then to $5 million dollar project will cost $6 million.
Outer seating of Elmwood Park stage
In January the projected $4 million cost broke down to half the total ($2.2 million) going toward the stage, grading, and water fountain area. The Art Walk was about half a million and Memory Lane another half million. The balance would cover the Tailgate Walk, garden and green spaces according to engineer Phil Shermer and Steve Buschor, director of Parks and Recreation.
Morrill rejected redesigning and rebidding the project and eliminating some key features. He also rejected negotiating with across the board cuts to the project that he said would lessen the park experience. He recommended using funds from capital reserves and moving forward with the $6 million MB Contractor’s construction bid.
Ray Ferris said, “he was one of the curmudgeons that kept after you about asking are you going to do this for $4 million … and you (Morrill) said it was going to be a little bit more than that. I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I was a little disappointed that we are over budget.”
In December of 2010 Ferris suggested the cost not exceed $3 to $4 million. He asked whether the city had the expertise “in-house” to come up with a basic approach before spending money on new studies. Assistant City Manager Brian Townsend confirmed at the time that the city had the expertise but that “at some point we have to transition to an architectural engineering firm for planning and construction.”
Ferris and all council members agreed that it should move forward at the increased cost. “It has dragged on long enough,” said Ferris.
The park will close on October 16 and depending on the weather the revitalized park will reopen 12 months later in the fall of 2013.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Politics, Roanoke City Politics
Tags: city_council, Elmwood, parks