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Sahalee Park bids too high; solution considered

City to serve as general contractor for work

   With bids for the Sahalee Park expansion coming in at more than $260,000 over projections, the city of Madras is looking at Plan B.
   The city engineer estimated that the expansion of the park, which will double the park's size, would cost about $510,000 -- the city's budget for the project, according to Gus Burril, public works director.
   Two bids were submitted -- one from Robinson Construction, of Hillsboro, which totaled $784,961, and one from Bartlett Excavation and Construction, of Prineville, which was incomplete, but totaled $915,000.
   "We don't have the funds to commit to this," Burril told the Madras City Council April 8. The council unanimously rejected the bids and expressed approval at Burril's suggestion that the city evaluate smaller contracts for portions of the work.
   Since then, said City Administrator Mike Morgan on Friday, "Staff has been busy getting subcontract bids. We broke it into major components like concrete, electrical, landscaping and pavilion."
   "We're reasonably confident that we'll be able to get this built within the budgeted amount," he added.
   Travis Wells, assistant city engineer, agreed, noting that the city will save money by acting as its own contractor.
   "In general, we are optimistic," he said. "We've had some good prices come in for other components -- electrical, landscaping, and we're waiting for storm drainage, pavilion and concrete."
   Wells expected to have all the informal bids by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, to prepare for presentation to the City Council Tuesday night.
   Process began in 2006
   As part of the expansion, Eighth Street between B and C streets was vacated and then closed in December of 2006 to allow the existing park to connect with an additional acre of property to the east, donated by the Bean Foundation.
   City crews tore out the street, sidewalk and curb, and began backfilling, mounding and compacting soil for the project almost immediately.
   In September of 2007, the city received a matching grant of $368,000 from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Committee. The city will use system development charges to match that.
   The Walker Macy firm, of Portland, designed the improvements, which will include a large outdoor pavilion in the northeast corner, situated on a raised area and surrounded by a berm.
   From the northeast corner, the park will slope down to a grove of trees. Flowering crab trees, English oaks and lacebark elm trees are among the trees that will be planted around the park.
   A pedestrian walkway will encircle and connect all areas of the park, including three small picnic areas, and a pioneer memorial to celebrate the area's history.
   Originally scheduled to be completed in July, in time for the Fourth of July celebration, park construction has been pushed back.
   "It's possible that the irrigation and concrete will be in by July 4," Morgan said optimistically.
   "The good news is we're going ahead with the park; we're just going to have to get creative with how we do it," he said.