Ahoskie moves forward on park plans

Published 8:42 am Tuesday, January 5, 2010

AHOSKIE – As expected, the Town of Ahoskie is seeking formal approval to proceed with its plans to finance in excess of $1 million for construction of the Ahoskie Creek Recreational Complex.

Recently, the Ahoskie Town Council gave the green light for town officials to submit an application and resolution of support to the Local Government Commission (LGC) that, if approved, will allow Ahoskie officials to borrow nearly $1.2 million for the project.

This process is being repeated due to the town asking the contractor – Heaton Construction of Roanoke Rapids – to find ways to trim the overall cost of the project, which, at one time, was priced at just over $2 million.

Thanks to the value engineering process performed by the contractor, the town saved $300,000. Now armed with a $500,000 PARTF (Parks and Recreation Trust Fund) grant, the town will have to borrow $1,194,785.50.

According to Town Manager Tony Hammond, that borrowed amount will be paid back in 15 years at an annual rate of $158,325.

Hammond told council members that a new application and resolution of support for the project needed to be submitted to the LGC because the original documents had changed due to the value engineering process.

Those revised documents have now been submitted. The LGC is expected to take the issue into consideration at their next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 5.

When asked if the loan payments would cause any budget concerns, Hammond said they would not.

“We’re comfortable with the payments,” Hammond said. “We have $110,000 set aside annually for park expansion payments. This only adds roughly $50,000 per year to that. We can account for that.”

At its November meeting, council awarded the contract to Heaton Construction, contingent upon LGC approval. Heaton’s original bid of $1,687,000 was lowered to $1,375,500 following the value engineering.

Those savings will come in the form of reducing the elevation of all ball fields by one foot; eliminating a small parking lot; removing one beach volleyball court; and providing for a stick-built concession stand/restroom facility instead of a more costly pre-fab model.

Those savings totaled $307,500.

Additionally, the town could increase those savings by reducing some of the multiple items in the project. Those included two picnic shelters (instead of the five shown on the original plans) and one playground instead of three.

According to Dan Boone of the Wooten Company, Ahoskie’s engineering firm, the changes were cleared with PARTF.

“They said as long as the overall description of the project is maintained, then they’re okay with it,” Boone stated at a recent Ahoskie Council meeting “In other words, if a picnic shelter is required through the PARTF grant application, then have one, not five.”

“We will maintain the overall aspect of the project,” Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond said. “We’re just removing the excess so we can get the price of the project back down to where we originally planned.”