Ad Spot

Council rejects bids for Hal Kirby project

It’s been nearly seven months since a $250K grant was announced to rebuild Hal Kirby park – seven months of making plans, working with architects and engineers and finally bidding out the job. Monday, the City of Russellville hit a roadblock but one that will hopefully be quickly rectified.

The city voted to reject all bids for the work to be done at the ballpark, which has been out of commission ever since flooding damage in June 2015. Plans are in place to rebuild it better than ever, but the lowest bid received on the project – $476,232 – was substantially higher than the city’s quote from the engineer and architect in charge of designing the project – $297,944. The two-story concession stand/press box/restrooms facility alone was quoted at $279,000, as compared to the $175,000 quote the city received.

Mayor David Grissom was, understandably, disheartened as he announced the news in Monday’s city council meeting. Of the six contractors who picked up the plans for the park, only three returned bids on the project. Grissom said the city hopes to see better bids after the re-bidding process but might have to considering scaling down the project. Either way, “I just don’t feel comfortable moving forward at this price based on what I think it could be done for,” Grissom said. “We owe that to the taxpayers – to make sure we get the best value for the taxpayer dollars.”

Although there was initially a thought that the field might be ready for action this spring. Grissom said the council still hopes the process will pick up speed soon.

“I know there are a lot of folks who really want this project done, including myself – including all of us,” said Councilman David Palmer, as other councilmembers nodded in agreement. “But it would be irresponsible on our part to move forward with this bid. We need to do a little research, I think, and see why in the world a building like that costs (almost) $300K. That’s beyond my comprehension.”

Following citywide flooding in June 2015, the park was perhaps Russellville’s area of greatest damage. Swirling floodwaters tore down fences and damaged the ballfields, which were damaged to the point of being unusable for any summer or fall sports.

A $250,000 Community Development Block Grant to the city should provide new fencing for the two ball fields at the park, the multi-use building to accommodate the concession stand, restrooms and press box and associated walkways that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Local matching funds and in-kind services will provide additional funding toward the project.