Bids for Shawnee park project top estimates by almost $300,000

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Dan Muser Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Director.
Taken April 2009

Cape Girardeau leaders plan a Thursday groundbreaking for the new Shawnee Community Centre, but angry city council members on Monday demanded answers about why bids for the project exceeded estimates by almost $300,000.

"This is supposed to be something where everybody is sitting around the campfire singing 'Kumbaya,'" Mayor Jay Knudtson said to Dan Muser, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department. "Instead, due to the architect's failure, we've got a terrible situation on our hands."

The project to build a new community center and additional sports fields at the Shawnee Sports Complex near the intersection of West End Boulevard and Highway 74 is one of the big construction jobs supported by a sales tax approved by voters in April 2008. The plan, when the tax was approved by voters, was to devote $4.46 million to all the work needed at the location. Groundbreaking on the project is set for 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Some work, including asphalt for parking lots, has already been completed and some money is set aside for equipment in the community center and other items. When the city advertised for bids, it had about $3.35 million available for the construction project.

The lowest bid was for $3.11 million for the basic project, from Sides Construction. But because mistakes Muser blamed on architect Ron Grojean, lights for three new softball fields were left out of the basic project. When the amount Sides asked to install the lights -- $480,000 -- is added in, the company's bid is at least $250,000 more than the funds available.

"Why the hell wasn't that in there?" Knudtson asked. "It is lights."

"I can't tell you," Muser said. "I am not very happy with the performance of the architect."

Muser recommended that the bids be rejected, that the specifications be rewritten and new bids solicited. But council members instead voted to postpone that decision for two weeks and asked that Muser try to negotiate with Sides and bring Grojean to the council's next meeting, on June 1, to answer questions.

"We have to manage the scope to deliver those things," Ward 1 Councilman John Voss said. "We need to deliver on those projects."

Even if the cost of the project can be successfully negotiated, Muser said numerous items considered optional in the initial bidding phase will be cut. Those items include concrete walkways connecting new softball fields, asphalt parking lots in some locations, additional lighting and an emergency generator for the community center.

On another big park project, the council awarded a contract for $818,000 to Jokerst Inc. for site preparation work at the Osage Community Centre to expand at the center and construct an aquatic park. Bids for actual construction will be solicited later this year. A groundbreaking for the project is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

In other action, the council voted unanimously to impose the city's 2.75 percent sales tax during the state's back-to-school sales tax holiday. The action, which requires another vote in two weeks, is necessary because of the city's tight budget in the upcoming year, several council members said.

"Good stewardship is what the citizens expect," Ward 3 Councilwoman Debra Tracy said. "You can't give away what you don't have."

The council also approved a $2.4 million contract with Lappe Cement Finishing for a project to widen Mount Auburn Road from Independence Street to Kings­highway. The road will be widened to four lanes through residential areas, and to five lanes, with one center turn lane, in commercial sections. A traffic light will replace the four-way stop sign at the Hopper Road intersection.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

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Pertinent addresses:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

1157 S. West End Blvd., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

1625 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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