The Pell City City Council is moving forward with its splash pad project after a compromise was reached among a majority of members.
City Manager Brian Muenger said that during its regular meeting on April 13, the Council approved bids for site work and splash pad construction by a vote of 4-1. The project will now move into the implementation phase with a tentative 2016 opening date.
Moving some of the project into the 2016 fiscal year allowed Council member Jay Jenkins to propose an option that worked for most parties, Muenger said.
“Mr. Jenkins requested that the large feature be paid from next year’s operating budget, and generally expressed a desire to move past this single issue,” Muenger said. “Mr. Jenkins further indicated that he still felt the expenditure was excessive.”
Muenger said Council member Terry Templin provided the dissenting vote on both resolutions, agreeing with Jenkins’ sentiment that the cost was still too high.
With Jenkins’ vote, the project gained protection from a mayoral veto. Last month, Mayor Joe Funderburg vetoed the previous bid awards, which couldn’t be overturned by the Council without a 4-1 vote. Muenger said Funderburg indicated he would not attempt to veto again since the Council now had the necessary votes to overturn.
The large feature in question is an approximately $169,000 central attraction that was added to the project after designers laid out plans for a 32-feature splash pad. This feature became the primary divide in the debate of the project’s cost.
Resolutions approved during the April 13 meeting included Muenger’s efforts to reduce the cost of the project without rebidding or adjusting scale through Value Engineering options. At the work session April 9, Muenger indicated he was able to reduce prospective costs by $60,000. At the regular meeting, the full reduction came to approximately 80,000.
“The amount of Value Engineering grew a bit since the last meeting, as we continued to negotiate with the contractors to lower the number,” he said. “In total, $49,091 in VE deductions were taken, along with a $10,000 reduction in the landscaping budget and $20,000 from the Parks and Recreation operating fund.”
By combining the reductions with moving the cost of the central feature to the FY 2016 budget, total reduction from the Council’s original resolution is approximately $250,000.
“By making some of these cuts, I believe we showed the Council we could tighten our belts, protect the project and reach a compromise,” Muenger said. “I’m pleased we can now move forward to other areas of development."
Muenger said he anticipated an early 2016 opening date for the splash pad.
"Site work is continuing as weather allows, and citizens should expect to see steady progress at the location in the coming months," he said.