By Steve Guntli
While volunteer workers will break ground on the Marine Park playground this weekend, the project will not be finished by July.
At the parks and cemetery board meeting on May 21, deputy community developer Alex Wenger updated the board on the park’s progress. Wenger said the city won’t complete the project by the previously announced July deadline. He and his staff are now aiming for late August or early September.
“I really wanted to get it done by July 4,” Wenger said. “But July 4 is still going to be great, and this playground is going to be here for many years. There will be other opportunities.”
Tom Frey, an engineer and a former intern for the city, approached Wenger about volunteering his time and services to the project. Frey and a small crew broke ground on the playground last weekend, using a donated excavator. The crew has begun digging out the foundation and drilling holes for the play set.
Wenger said the volunteer crews have been a godsend.
“It’s really what needed to happen at this point,” he said. “It was incredibly generous for people to donate their time like this, and it’s going to be a huge help.”
In April, the city rejected two bids from contractors to build the playground. The bids, for $110,000 and $113,000, were over the $60,000 allotted, forcing Wenger and the city staff to pare down the proposal and find ways to cut the budget.
Wenger believes contractors were discouraged by the project’s complex, 100-page bid packet.
He said the city’s staff are redrafting the bids to make them less intimidating, but are waiting to submit them to contractors until they see how much the volunteers finish.
Wenger didn’t have a solid estimate as to how much digging out the foundation would save.