Charlottesville’s City Council on Monday made funds available for two long-planned projects in McIntire Park.
By a 4-0 vote, City Council approved a reallocation of about $1.75 million in existing capital improvement program funds to fully support a relocated and improved skate park, as well as a bicycle and pedestrian bridge that will cross over the Norfolk Southern railroad line. Councilor Kristin Szakos was absent from the meeting.
“The issue that requires [a] council decision is regarding the construction costs for each project, both of which exceed funding currently allocated,” Doug Ehman, the city parks division manager, told councilors.
The skate park and pedestrian bridge are estimated to cost $2.08 million and $2.46 million, respectively.
“The bridge connecting the two sides of the park has been shown on numerous city plans for many years, beginning in the 1972 master plan for McIntire Park and carrying through to the current city Comprehensive Plan,” Ehman said. “The bridge is a critical east-west link in the off-street transportation network.”
The bridge will connect the two areas of McIntire Park, allowing visitors to move between the side that is home to the new YMCA facility and the side with the future botanical garden and the skate park. The Virginia Department of Transportation is providing approximately $1.1 million in funding for this project, with the city supporting the rest of it.
“The skate park was included in the 2012 adopted master plan for the park and will replace the skate park that was originally located on McIntire Road,” Ehman said.
The skate park was formerly located near Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad headquarters before it was removed for the construction of the John W. Warner Parkway. The city opened a temporary skate park in the eastern part of McIntire Park in 2013.
The city received bids for both projects earlier this year. Some initial funding already was set aside for the projects, but it was not enough to cover the anticipated total costs.
In their proposal to the council, city staff suggested allocating money from the existing funds set aside for the general implementation of the McIntire Park Master Plan. This method did not require the city to appropriate any additional funding because the Master Plan account contains about $2.2 million.
In March, the lowest bid for the bridge came in from Corman Construction at just over $2 million. Additional railroad flagging, construction management and contingency costs brought the total anticipated cost to about $2.46 million.
About $1.29 million was already set aside for the project, and staff recommended allocating about $1.17 million from the Master Plan account to complete the funding for the bridge.
Bids for the skate park came in over budget in January, with the lowest bid from Martin Horn at about $2.44 million. The city originally had anticipated that the new park would cost $1.7 million. Staff members were able to negotiate some cost savings, lowering the anticipated construction cost to $1.98 million.
“Following the receipt of bids for the skate park, staff had negotiated with the low bidder to reduce the cost of the project by over $450,000,” Ehman said. “This will result in the exclusion of lighting in the facility at this time. However, our plans are to provide the critical infrastructure that will allow for easy installation of the lights in the future.”
With contingency costs, the total cost of the skate park is anticipated to be about $2.08 million. About $1.5 million already has been designated for the park, with $581,415 in additional funding needed. Staff also recommended allocating this amount from the Master Plan account.
The two projects are estimated to cost just under $4.55 million.
By allocating the requested $1.75 million, the balance of the Master Plan account will be reduced to $468,549. City staff said the remaining amount will be used to implement other projects in McIntire Park.
The vote followed a brief presentation to the council.
“The skate park is good to go now?” asked Councilor Wes Bellamy.
“We’ll move forward, with the exception of lighting,” Ehman responded.
With no other questions, councilors approved the proposed funding approach for each project.
In an email on Tuesday, Ehman said that if the contracting process goes according to plan, construction on both projects could begin in the fall.