Sports complex amenities found to be pricey

Published 12:35 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2016

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

As arrangements for the Joseph Luter Jr. Sports Complex continue to pick up speed, the town has hit a rather pricey bump in the road.

While the town was able to negotiate a contract with the notable sports contractor R.A.D. Sports down from $2.8 million to $2.5 million, bids for the project’s architectural package were higher than anticipated — much higher, according to Brian Camden, Program Manager Alpha Corporation.

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“The low bid exceeded, by far, the architect’s estimate,” Camden said at a recent Town Council committee meeting.

Separate from the contract established with R.A.D. for the ball fields, the architectural package will include the construction of two concession buildings (one larger and one smaller), restrooms, entrance walls as well as several bronze statues around the complex.

The town only received four bids for the package, not enough, according to Jamie Weist of Kimley-Horne Associates, Inc., who presented the findings with Camden at the meeting.

 “It’s a very elaborate facility,” said Camden. “It’s our feeling that the project may have to be rethought … unless additional funds are found.” {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The lowest bid for the architectural package came from David A. Nice Builders, Inc. from Williamsburg, which bid $873,000, and which was able to be negotiated down to $709,000. The town’s original ideal cost for the package was $400,000.

“We’re still a couple hundred thousand over where we need to be,” Weist said. “We need to go back to the contractor and say, ‘look, this thing’s going to be totally thrown out unless you can come up with something else to rescue at this point.’”

The costliest items were the brick and roof materials, according to Weist.

The brick entrance wall planned for the front of the complex, for instance, cost roughly $40,000.

“So that’s a pretty big ticket item,” said Weist.

Before scrapping the design, starting over and rebidding, Weist said he would like to give the contractor another opportunity to bring the price down, and potentially make some value engineering changes to the materials.

Town Manager Peter Stephenson agreed that it was too early to reject the four bids, and that the town should see what it can salvage from them before moving on.

Council member Randy Pack said that while the town should spend its money wisely, it should also be prepared to pay for the distinguished, world-class ball park it had originally envisioned.

“The concession stand is very expensive … However, with that being said, it is also very attractive,” said Pack. “We are building the Taj Mahal of ball parks out here.”

The complex should be designed to draw people to the town, Pack said.

“Spend our money wisely, but understand we don’t need to put up a cinder block concession stand that every ball park from here to Alabama has.”

Council members agreed to reach out to more local contractors should the package be rebid, and present them with a rough design of what the town is looking for.

“Before we talk to our buddies we’ve got to have something to show them,” said Mayor Carter Williams.

The town is also proposing forming a franchise agreement with the Smithfield Recreation Association (SRA), rather than leasing the complex to the association.

A franchise agreement would allow for a longer term management agreement, according to town attorney William Riddick, in which the SRA would be responsible for managing and taking care of the facilities.

The SRA was slated to present the town with a proposal regarding the franchise agreement Friday, to be discussed at a public hearing during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.  {/mprestriction}