Wood and construction barrels sit near the site of the future dog park at Pioneer Park at the end of March.

Wood and construction barrels sit near the site of the future dog park at Pioneer Park at the end of March.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Bids come in higher than expected for Pioneer Park

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 15, 2019

 Pioneer Park, which is to include a dog park, will be located north of Eppler Junior High School in Utica.

Pioneer Park, which is to include a dog park, will be located north of Eppler Junior High School in Utica.

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UTICA — The planned date for Utica’s new Pioneer Park to be built, which includes the city’s first dog park, is right around the corner, and the city has big plans for it; however, some changes might need to be made.

The Utica City Council voted to approve the proposed dog park as presented as part of the planned Pioneer Park at its Sept. 11 meeting last year.

The dog park will be located on the land to the north of Eppler Junior High School, where Hahn Street ends, and is planned to be built by July 3.

An Aug. 28, 2018, town hall meeting at Utica City Hall focused on gaining community input on ideas for the park — referred to as Pioneer Park, but not yet officially named — in addition to thoughts on putting a dog park inside it. The city received a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for $500,000 to be used toward the land, which is a brownfield development due to previously being a landfill. The city will have to use these funds by the end of 2019.

Current plans for the park include connectivity to the Iron Belle Trail, installing bathrooms, improving Hahn Street, cleaning up the property, and creating green space recreational areas for families to enjoy.

Plans for the dog park include having a key fob entry system to help with the upkeep of the park once it is built. The key fobs would have to be purchased.

Other dog park plans include off-leash play, obstacles for the dogs, fencing, an area for food and water for both dogs and their owners, benches, signs, electricity, and more, all of which may be added as the dog park is built.

The city was provided with free, clean soil that was already laid over the brownfield location.

The park concept was recommended to the city due to the type of land, which would not allow for residential construction

At the City Council’s meeting April 9, bids for the construction came in and some details of the park’s plans will need to be altered in order for the city to stay under the budget that it set for the park.

The low bids came in at $969,838.50 with asphalt or $900,190.50 with gravel from Cross Renovation Inc. in Livonia. The city had estimated the cost to be approximately $750,000 for the bid package. The city is trying to stick to a budget of $500,000 — the grant amount.

The city will now be looking for ways to reduce the cost of building the park.

“We put together a schedule with the city to say, ‘Well, some of this could be done in-house, and some of this could be contracted out. How do you want to proceed?’ They said they wanted to proceed with the project. Let’s get the pricing on it and we can decide how we want to split this project up potentially. So, on March 12, we said we received bids and the low bidder was Cross Renovation Inc. out of Livonia,” said Sal Conigliaro, who works for Hubbell, Roth and Clark, Utica’s in-house engineering firm.

He explained that the city had already planned on doing some of the work, but it still put it out for bid to see if the city could contract the work.

“There were things that we had added to the proposal that we decided they (Utica) were already going to do themselves, such as the grading and the (hot mix asphalt) pathway that circled the park itself, and possibly purchasing enough topsoil, although (it) turns out that we had the topsoil available. So the value of those items is $224,248. That brings it down to $645,590, still over budget, so at this time we ... spoke to Cross Renovation and we told them that we’re looking at the bid and working with the city, and there are certain things that we may have to eliminate from the project, and there’s certain things that may be done in-house,” said Conigliaro.

He said there are a lot of different details to this project that caused the cost to be high, and it’s a little different than most construction projects.

“We are developing land with specialty use,” he said.

Conigliaro said that they are hoping to have a memo of new information about the park for the City Council in about a week.

They are trying to speed up the details of what will be changed, because construction season is in full swing, and waiting until another meeting would lose valuable building time.

He explained that the city is not obligated to keep all the items that the construction company bid on and that it can still change things around.

The engineering company and the city are going to bring back more ideas and plans before their next meeting to present an updated plan for the proposed dog park that will be closer to the budget.

“Once we get our ducks in a row, we can get the amount awarded,” Conigliaro said.

“We are talking about reducing the scope. We’ll have to lose part of this to make this work, and when we put the whole project out, we knew going into it that we’re probably going to have to reduce the scope,” Conigliaro said.

As of the meeting, Mayor Thom Dionne said that no changes had been made as of yet, but the city might be looking to its DPW to help reduce the costs.

“There will be no changes at this point. It’ll be the case that our DPW does some of the work in-house rather than contracting it out,” Dionne stated in an email.

City Councilman Chuck Cuddington during the meeting brought up a concern with using city employees.

“The (Department of Public Works) already has work to do, and you are putting them over there to do another project. ... My concern is not to overspend and overwork the DPW,” said Cuddington.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 14 at City Hall. The meetings are open to the public. Those who would like to learn more or get involved can contact the city at (586) 739-1600.

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