South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Aldermen review improvements at Whitecliff Park

Proposals for pavilion and courts were over budget

Crestwood aldermen discussed and later approved two projects set to improve Whitecliff Park April 26.

The two improvements were pulled off the consent agenda by Ward 3 Alderman Scott Shipley. They include the addition of a 36 feet by 66 feet pavilion near the quarry and resurfacing of basketball and tennis courts in the park.

The pavilion project is the second phase of quarry improvements. The city was awarded a $239,000 grant in 2020 by the St. Louis Municipal Park Grant Commission. The project has to be completed by the end of the year to be eligible for funds. 

The city decided on several items to use the grant on, but COVID complications forced the project to be just a pavilion for now, with future changes to be possibly covered by future grants.

Earlier this year the city budgeted $311,000 for the pavilion, which includes the grant funds. The lowest bid the city received for the project was from Byrne & Jones Construction for $358,000. Staff also recommended to aldermen to add bid alternates for gables ($56,000), stone columns ($32,000) and colored concrete ($6,600), putting the project at $452,600. The staff report stated the pavilion would be unique from any other in the city, and a higher rental rate could be assigned to it.

“We wanted to make this area more of a draw while still respecting the natural environment that’s down there,” City Administrator Kris Simpson said. “It’s coming at a cost. This is probably the worst bidding environment in the last 10-15 years.”

The pavilion itself costs around $218,000 with the other $140,000 for set up and alterations to the site, meaning changing the size of the pavilion wouldn’t save enough to go under budget.

Shipley said he pulled the plan from the consent agenda due to the large size of the pavilion and the fact that it came in nearly $150,000 over budget. The roof of the pavilion is 36 feet by 66 feet in width and height, and 23 feet tall with the gable option. Shipley displayed graphics to show how large the pavilion would be. 

According to Shipley, the pavilion could hold the city’s entire police and fire fleet at the same time, or completely encompass his or Mayor Grant Mabie’s homes.

“I feel it’s going to really dominate the space,” Shipley said. “It doesn’t have to be a big pavilion to be attractive.”

Shipley also pointed out the 1999 parks master plan, which depicts a restroom by a pavilion in this one’s location. If the pavilion were placed by the quarry, the nearest restroom and parking lot would be three-tenths of a mile away. 

City Attorney Lisa Stump said if aldermen did decide to change bid specifications, like the size, the plan would have to be put up for bid again. This could mean the grant is lost or an even higher bid comes in.

Aldermen were split on if the pavilion was too large, or a good size for a main pavilion. Ward 1 Alderman Jesse Morrison said he has heard from multiple residents to “think big and out of the box.”

“I’m in favor of trying to make this as grand as possible,” Morrison said. “We have an opportunity to make that location grand, and I would suggest to go … big.”

Ward 4 Alderman John Sebben said the pavilion could distract from the natural beauty of the park. He said whatever they decide should not overshadow the quarry.

Ward 1 Alderman Jim Zavist suggested removing the gables from the project, a $56,000 addition.

“If we’re going to spend money we should spend it on things at eye-level … I’m not sure about the value of the gables, that is probably an expenditure that could go away and not have much impact,” Zavist said. “People aren’t looking at the pavilion, they’re looking out.”

The board voted 7-1 to remove the gables, cutting the cost to $396,600. Morrison was the lone no vote. The removal of the gables also made the pavilion 9 feet shorter, putting at 14 feet tall.

The board voted 7-1 to approve the  gable-less plan, with Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau voting no. 

The second project pulled off the consent agenda by Shipley was also over budget. The city originally budgeted $140,000, and through the TIPS-USA procurement program, settled on a bid of $163,860 — $130,875 for the basketball court and $32,985 for the tennis court — from McConnell & Associates Corporation.

Simpson said the basketball courts are in disrepair, and the new concrete should last 40-50 years. The tennis courts need basic resurfacing. 

Shipley said he wasn’t sure about the use of TIPS-USA for a project of this size because city code would require it to go through the usual bidding process. He said the code does allow staff to use procurement programs as well, but for projects without a fixed price he doesn’t see a way to know if the price is good or not.

“It seems to me it should be worth the effort to get the multiple bids,” Shipley said. 

Shipley said he asked staff to inquire about other bids for a lower price, but none had come in by the time of the meeting. He said he didn’t want to delay the project, so he suggested voting and waiting to sign until more bids come in. If a lower bid does come in, the board could look at it at a special meeting — the mayor has one week to wait to sign the ordinance.

The board unanimously approved the ordinance, with the possibility of holding a special meeting if a lower bid comes in.

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