April 20, 1998
Andrew Walgamott/staff photo
Land was cleared and excavation for an amphitheater was begun at Wilmot Gateway Park in Woodinville last week.
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--After years of buildup, the start of construction on Woodinville's "flagship" park is about to begin. Last week, the Woodinville City Council awarded what amounts to a $1.73 million construction contract to C.A. Carey, Corp. of Issaquah to build Wilmot Gateway Park. In appropriating the funds, the council also sent a message that it would be watching costs on the 3.7-acre downtown park closely.
City staff had recommended that C.A. Carey be given the contract with authorization to spend up to $1.87 million without council approval. That amount would have provided funding for construction emergencies known as contingencies which hadn't been added to project costs. But during council discussion last week, councilmembers worried that the winning bid was already 31 percent above a 1997 park construction estimate. City Manager Roy Rainey warned the council that if it approved the recommendation, which amounted to another 8 percent on top of the 31 percent, the builder would be looking for ways to spend that money.
Later, Councilmember Bob Miller said contingency costs should have been built into the base bid price. He said in voting to hold the contract to $1.73 million, he wanted to say "this is what it is" to the contractor. "If there are any changes, come back to us and explain why you want to do that...We're not unreasonable people. We're ultimately responsible for the bucks. We have to make sure they are spent wisely and prudently," Miller said.
Councilman Randy Ransom, who found himself in the uncomfortable position of voting against going ahead on the park, had argued that while the project was straight-forward, a contingency fund would give staff the leeway to respond to emergencies in the field. He had voted in favor of a motion to provide at least a four percent contingency, though it was defeated.
Still, Miller said if there were problems, the City Council could respond to them within a week's time. In the wake of the council's decision, Rainey said he would sit the players down for a preconstruction "do better talk," the purpose of which was to ask that money be saved where it could, and to advise that the council was watching. C.A. Carey's bid was the lowest of four the city received in March. Bids ran as high as $2.023 million, almost $720,000 above consultant's estimates of $1.2 million. The difference between estimate and actual bids was blamed on an "over-heated bidding climate" linked to boom times in the Puget Sound construction market.
Parks Director Lane Youngblood was happy to be moving forward with the project. "It's very exciting to finally have the go-ahead with this. It's been a long time coming." Youngblood said volunteers are already hard at work on the park site across the street from the Sorenson ballfields. Since formal groundbreaking in late March, crews and heavy equipment have cleared blackberry brambles, taken down cottonwood trees and begun site excavation for the amphitheater. Youngblood said work being done now by Hos Bros., Ian MacCallum, a certified arborist, and Goodnight Construction would help offset construction costs. Volunteers Bob Vogt and George Steed spent a day chipping wood debris. Fencing around the site was provided by Anchor Fencing.
Called the "flagship of Woodinville's park system," Wilmot is expected to open in October. Youngblood said there were still opportunities to donate to the park through volunteer service, in-kind contributions and through the brick and tile campaign. Contact City Hall at 489-2700 for more information.