McNamara Park fixes put on hold by council

Bids for face-lift deemed too high

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comJuly 16, 2013 

— Merced City Council rejected three bids to renovate McNamara Park on Monday, saying the estimates were too high.

City engineers estimate the cost for construction at $1.5 million, but all three bids were more than $2 million. Rejecting the bid will set the project back by about three months.

"Obviously, this is disappointing, but it is what it is," said Councilwoman Mary-Michal Rawling. "Hopefully, we get some more bids that are competitive next time around."

City Council voted 6-0 to have city staff change the plans and specifications, and send the renovation back through the bidding process. Mayor Pro-Tem Noah Lor was absent.

A state grant of $2.6 million will pay for the park's face-lift. About $600,000 of that money will cover turf upgrades, which were put out for bids separately.

Two other bids on the park's renovation were discounted, because of problems with the applications, according to city staff.

Plans include converting a softball field into two gated soccer fields with artificial turf, and creating an all-purpose grass field. Upgrades are planned for playground equipment and basketball courts, along with a new covered entertainment pavilion and a splash pad — a fountain in which children play.

To bring the estimates down, city staff will look into removing a number of features not required by the grant's parameters.

John Sagin, the city's senior architect, said some items added to the project after meetings with community members likely would have to go. That could include additional lighting, a piece of sidewalk and a parking lot, among other features.

Sagin said the bathroom and pavilion in the park will be upgraded, but not to the size that was previously planned.

"So, all of these items will save costs, and hopefully get us back within the budget," he said.

Security cameras remain in the plans.

Sagin said staff members hope to get six to eight bids, which would make estimates more competitive.

The project originally was set to start in August, but will be pushed to November to receive the new bids. Sagin said late-year weather could delay construction further.

Councilman Josh Pedrozo requested that the city hold a community meeting at McNamara Park to inform regular visitors about the changes.

"I know this is something people in the McNamara neighborhood really cared about, and really put a lot of time and effort into," he said.

The park's pool opened to many eager swimmers in June — a big deal to local residents because of the pool's past.

After being closed in 2011, McNamara pool was reopened last year when south Merced residents pushed city officials to find the $70,000 in city money and private donations to renovate the pool.

Reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or by email at tmiller@merced sunstar.com.

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