City Council chooses Madera construction company to upgrade McNamara Park in south Merced

10/21/2013 10:46 PM

10/21/2013 11:02 PM

Merced City Council officially gave McNamara Park’s renovators the green light Monday.

City Council unanimously awarded the project to Avison Construction Inc., a Madera company whose bid was the lowest at $1.5 million.

The city received seven bids, according to city documents. One Merced-based company, Taylor Backhoe Services Inc., submitted a bid, which was the third highest.

John Sagin, the city’s senior architect, said Americans with Disabilities Act ramps and the splash pad, a fountain that children can play in, will remain part of the plans. Some of the items were on the chopping block if the costs remained too high.

“(That) was very important for the community and all of us,” Sagin said. “So, we’re very happy about that.”

Other 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 walkways. Security cameras, artwork and security lighting are also in the works.

Sagin said the company plans to start construction Nov. 4 and complete the work by April.

The city received a $2.6 million state grant to upgrade McNamara Park, near West 11th and Canal streets in April.

The first round of bids were rejected by council in July because they all exceeded $2 million. Since then, city engineers redesigned the park and eliminated the parking lot, basketball court, some landscaping, lighting and all the perimeter fencing, among other features, to bring the costs down.

A meeting in August informed interested residents of the planned changes. The reaction was mostly positive.

Council has awarded Austin, Texas-based Hellas Construction Inc. with the contract to install the synthetic turf at McNamara Park. The company’s bid was $630,543, the lowest of nine estimates.

McNamara Park was a popular topic at City Council meetings and in the community for the past few years.

The park’s pool opened to many eager swimmers in June, a big deal to local residents because of the pool’s recent 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.

McNamara Park is considered a community park, as opposed to a neighborhood park. It is meant to serve a larger area and has more amenities than other parks with unused pools.

In June, Tamara Cobb, a community activist and organizer, said the park and pool play an important role in the neighborhood. It’s a place where children can be supervised, steered into other youth programs and be safe from gang activity, she said.

On Monday, Councilwoman Mary-Michal Rawling summed up the council’s approval of the project.

“I look forward to the ribbon-cutting,” Rawling said.

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