Lamar City Administrator, John Sutherland, imparted some disappointing news to the Lamar City Council and audience during the August 22nd meeting; the bids for construction for the proposed downtown Pocket Park and the first phase of Highway 287 construction came in over expectations and current available finances.
“We had only one bid for the Pocket Park construction,” he said, adding it was at three times the expected cost of construction, estimated at $150,000. “The city is going to have to go back and look at a new approach for finances on this matter. It probably won’t be until next year that we’re in a position to advertise for construction again,” he explained. That comes as disappointing news to the community as park renovations have been discussed for the past several years. Formal designs were presented to the public during a July meeting to showcase some of the features to turn the open space between Shore Arts Center and Daylight Donuts into a decorated area for different community events. It had been hoped that the park’s construction could have been completed in time for the annual Parade of Lights which is hosted each year by the Lamar Chamber of Commerce. In years past, the Parade had been held on a Friday evening. The Chamber directors decided to move the Parade to a Saturday evening, December 3rd, which will be associated with a full range of holiday events for the downtown merchants leading up to the parade that night. Events can still be held at the park area, and any decorations for the gatherings will only be limited by the imaginations and budget of the organizers.
“There were four bids from construction companies for the Highway 287 renovation project going through the downtown area, and the lowest bid of the four came in 25% higher than our cost estimate for that portion of the project,” said Sutherland, as he discussed what could now be a delay in that project which was expected to begin this October. “I think a rebid will take place to see what comes in, but that would stop any construction along Main Street until sometime in 2017,” he continued. CDOT Resident Engineer for southeast Colorado, Brian Long, said the first phase of the project was estimated at $10M and the low bid was at $12.5M. “Part of the problem is at this late date in the year, a lot of construction companies are already booked for projects and they probably set a premium price on accepting the bid on this project,” he explained. Long said he’s making calls for more information on the new scenario and there appear to be a couple of options at this point. “We can try to find the extra funding in the budget and pay the low bid, or probably our best option would be to go to re-bid and see if we get lower prices in the second round. I think that’s what would happen, and it would mean saving the taxpayers money through that course, but it would also probably delay the project until next year.” Long said the re-bids would be advertised, probably in November or December and at that scheduling, if a bid is accepted, the project would probably start in the spring of 2017. “We’re going to have to discuss our options and make a determination on what will be the best course of action to follow,” he stated.
One other community event cancellation was made known at the Monday night meeting, the proposed Lamar Fly-In at the municipal airport, set for September 24th, has been called off. Councilman Oscar Riley, liaison to the Lamar Airport Board, announced that scheduling conflicts with the YAK aircraft from the Red Star Group, one of the main attractions for the event, will not be able to attend. He added that limited funding to promote the one-day event, as well as secure aerial acts, was the deciding factor to hold off on the airshow for this year. Peter Page, Airport Board President, told The Prowers Journal that with this situation in mind, plans would be for the event to be held in 2017. “We hold this every other year right now, but we will meet and discuss our options for next year. What I think we might do is decide to hold some fund raising activities to make sure we have sufficient finances to lock in some contracts for performers for the next event,” he explained.
By Russ Baldwin
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