Park project broken down

CENTRAL POINT — Construction could begin soon on Don Jones Park, even though the first bids for the project were $1 million higher than city officials expected.

The 9-acre park, with its tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, lights, and walking paths, was initially offered to builders as a single project, and the three contractors who submitted bids all came in about $1 million over the estimated $2.3 million price tag. Contractors said higher prices for fuel and materials, along with the broad scope of the project, forced them to submit bids far above what city officials might have expected.

City officials regrouped and decided to divide the construction into phases that could be more easily managed and bid more economically. They created a development plan that's now expected to cost about $1.7 million.

"By re-bidding a different way we're able to save quite a bit of money," said Matt Samitore, Central Point's development services director. The changes reduced costs by about $600,000 overall and made each phase of construction less costly and more manageable, he said. "With the first round of bids, there had been some confusion, so certain features were (bid at) double and triple what we know it would cost."

City officials plan to seek a 10-year, $1.1 million bond issue to finance the park, with the additional $600,000 to come from budgeted funds and state grants

Council members awarded a contract last week for $977,000 to Visar Construction of Medford for the first phase of the project, which includes utilities, tennis and basketball courts, walking paths, a playground base and lighting.

A playground could be installed later this summer, and a second construction phase, including landscaping, could go out to bid by early August.

Plans now call for completing park buildings in a separate construction project, and eventually adding a water play feature.

Kerry Bradshaw, parks commission chairman, said Central Point residents and longtime members of the parks commission were eager to see work actually get started.

"There has certainly been a lot of work and effort put into Don Jones Park, so we're very excited to see things finally happening," Bradshaw said.

"It's going to be a wonderful, beautiful place, and with the war memorial right there, which the parks commission is very supportive of, Don Jones (Park) will be quite a feather in the city's cap," Bradshaw said.

Patricia Alvarez, parks commission vice chair, said she hoped local residents and business owners would be "so excited" to hear that the park would soon move forward that they will help fund park amenities such as a water spray feature.

"We have some exciting ideas for fundraising because we're going to need more money to make a water spray park possible," Alvarez said. "We're all really excited that things are finally beginning to happen."

She said park backers plan to have fundraising events such as a "Battle of the Bones" barbecue contest and microbrew tasting at the Jackson County Expo after Labor Day.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

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