The Berkley City Council approved a contract with Warren Contractors & Development to move forward with the Oxford/Merchants Park project. The vote was 5-2, as some council members were concerned about the amount of money that would be spent at this uncertain time.

The Berkley City Council approved a contract with Warren Contractors & Development to move forward with the Oxford/Merchants Park project. The vote was 5-2, as some council members were concerned about the amount of money that would be spent at this uncertain time.

Photo by Mike Koury


Berkley’s Oxford/Merchants project to cost more than originally anticipated

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 8, 2020

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BERKLEY — The city of Berkley is moving forward with its upgrades at Oxford/Merchants Park after officially selecting a contractor for the project.

The Berkley City Council approved in a 5-2 vote awarding a contract to Warren Contractors & Development Inc. at its Aug. 10 meeting.

A big topic of conversation during the meeting was the scope of the project and how much money the city was willing to put forth at this time.

According to City Manager Matt Baumgarten, the original budget for the project was $508,000. Berkley was awarded a $180,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant from the United States Department of the Interior’s National Park Service to pay for elements of the project. Along with that grant, which will be matched by the city, Parks and Recreation Director Theresa McArleton previously stated that she expected Berkley’s portion of the funding would be between $320,000 and $400,000.

Unfortunately, Baumgarten said, the bids that came back were larger than what the city and its engineers, Hubbell, Roth & Clark Inc., previously expected. For the entire scope of the project, Warren Contractors’ bid amount was $928,659.

The city decided to itemize the construction work for the project in order to scale back some of the costs. Divided into divisions, Division I’s work included construction covered by the grant, which includes a splash pad, walking path and restrooms. Division II’s work covered part of a walking path, new playground equipment, a rubber safety surface for the playground and a concrete pad in between the splash pad and playground. Division III included additional pathways in the park, and Division IV featured additional parking lots on Bacon Avenue and Cambridge Road.

The council decided to vote on approving the construction work included in Division I and part of Division II. The work left out of Division II involved umbrellas, table seating for the concrete pad and parts of a walkway.

The bid work itself for construction came out to $785,548. With $78,555 for contingencies and $78,130.64 for engineering costs for Hubbell, Roth & Clark in overseeing the project’s completion, the total cost of the project is $942,233.64. Money not originally budgeted for the project came from the city’s general fund.

What was proposed at the meeting, Baumgarten said, was a pared down version of what Berkley initially wanted to do, but the hope is to return to those dropped portions at a later date.

“Admittedly, for projects that we do, it’s a large number here in Berkley, but this is a project that is going to serve the public for decades on end,” he said.

Some council members were worried about the unforeseen high price of the project. City Councilman Jack Blanchard wanted to see if the city could minimize the city’s spending on the construction.

“I’m concerned about spending this large amount of money, because as you remember back in March when COVID started, it was gonna be a month to two months to three months. Well it looks like now it’s gonna be a long time,” he said. “We’re gonna put a lot of stress on a lot of our businesses, revenues are going to be down and I want to be very careful we don’t spend money that we may need in the future, because times are very uncertain.”

Councilman Steve Baker felt the city could use a boost in morale right now, and something like the park upgrades could be something positive to focus on.

“There’s a lot of craziness going on, a lot of people still don’t believe in science and want to do masks and things to protect themselves and others. There’s a lot of emotion out there. I think this city really needs to have a catalytic project to bring people together on something positive and I see that in this initiative,” he said.

Council decided to choose between whether it would move forward with Division I and part of Division II, or only go ahead with Division I construction. Division I, according to an email from McArleton, would have cost $538,548.

“We did not do the engineering and contingencies cost for this because the second plan moved forward, but both are typically 10%,” she said. “So approximately $54,000 for both for a total of approximately $646,548 for Division I work plus contingencies and engineering work.”

Baker, Mayor Pro Tem Bridget Dean and Council members Natalie Price and Ross Gavin voted for Divisions I and II. Blanchard and Councilman Dennis Hennen voted for just Division I.

McArleton told the Woodward Talk that construction work would begin after Labor Day.

“All the exterior work will be done by the end of October,” she said. “Given timing, the interior work (the restrooms) will be done in early spring, by early to mid-April. So everything will be completed no later than the end of April.”

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