Mount Airy officials are poised to allocate $428,000 for a project to provide parking improvements and address an ongoing drainage problem at Reeves Community Center.
While that might sound like a huge expenditure, the good news is the Cherry Street parking lot plan, if approved this week by the city Board of Commissioners, will cost less than the $500,000 maximum estimated earlier.
“I think it’s about what we expected,” Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander reacted Tuesday to the low bid of $375,920 from a local company. A contract award will be formally considered during a Thursday meeting of the commissioners at 2 p.m.
The RCC project has been considered a high priority for municipal officials over the last couple of years for multiple reasons, including the need for more parking to accommodate center users and also the drainage issue in the Cherry Street lot.
That problem has caused the nearby lower level of the center to be flooded during heavy rainfall, accompanied by water gushing down a stairway into areas including the “Kidz Klub” that hosts children’s activities.
Double the spaces
The purpose of the project is to rehabilitate the existing RCC Cherry Street lot — which has been in disrepair for years — through several measures, based on a memo from City Engineer Mitch Williams.
These include repairing and resurfacing failing asphalt, constructing two retaining walls that will address the drainage issue, new steps, sidewalks and concrete curbing and guttering which also is to help alleviate the flooding near the Kidz Klub entrance.
Plans call for the revamped parking lot to have 79 spaces when finished, nearly double the present number, according to Williams.
“These lots are not only used by RCC patrons, but are also public lots for events and festivals, etc.,” Alexander added Tuesday regarding the Cherry Street site and other parking facilities at the community center which are stressed at peak times.
Delays hamper effort
The improvement project has been beset with delays, including one prompted by the discovery of an old newspaper showing debris being used as filler when the Cherry Street lot was built in the 1970s. Williams has said debris subsequently was found, though not to the scale first suspected, and suggestions were obtained for mitigating that structural issue.
Another delay stemmed from the desire to have the project under way during a period when the construction is least disruptive to center activities, which is March to September of this year. That will conform to the schedules of heavily attended basketball tournaments held at the center and also asphalt plants.
Three companies submitted proposals for the project when it went out to bids last month, with the $375,920 low offer coming from Sowers Construction of Mount Airy. Two other local firms participated: PCS Construction Services Inc. ($381,470) and Sim-Con General Contractors ($383,860).
City engineering personnel are recommending that the commissioners award the contract to the low bidder, citing Sowers Construction’s “past satisfactory performance on city projects.”
Earlier this year, it was awarded a contract for $182,327 to rehabilitate another city-owned parking lot located between Brannock & Hiatt Furniture and Old North State Winery in the 400 block of North Main Street.
In addition to the $375,920 bid, money is proposed for a 10-percent contingency fund to cover unforeseen costs arising during the RCC project and $14,050 in landscaping work by city crews. That amounts to a $428,000 total that the commissioners will consider Thursday, which falls in line with earlier estimates of $400,000 to $500,000.
“If the board chooses to pursue it, it will definitely be a huge improvement,” Alexander commented Tuesday.
The entire Cherry Street lot will have to be closed for four months, with the contractor pledging to make every attempt to keep a driving aisle opened for handicapped access at the RCC pool entrance. But there could be days when that access is closed completely, Williams says.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.