WESLEY CHAPEL – Development at Wesley Chapel’s Dogwood Park has stalled as the town goes back to the planning board to help lower costs.
The town recently put out a bid for the park, but according to Mayor Brad Horvath, every bid came back more than the $500,000 budget.
Horvath said the lowest bid to come back for the 22.5-acre park was about $696,000. “We put the remaining work that had to be done out to bid. Unfortunately most of the bids that came back were higher than our expected bid,” he said.
With construction for the new town hall also in progress, the mayor said Wesley Chapel doesn’t have “an additional $300,000 or $400,000 to throw into the project.” The town does not plan to go into debt or take on loans for either project.
The $500,000 the town has for the project is from a matching grant provided by the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Fund. To receive the grant the town had to present their plan for Dogwood Park and have it approved by the state. If any future changes are made the state also has to approve those.
“The bottom line is we tried to do some value engineering, or working with the lower bidder,” Horvath said. “We are in the process of re-scoping it a little and working with the state to make sure they are comfortable.”
Wesley Chapel town council plans to put out a new bid for the park sometime in March. Horvath said the town does have some “wiggle room” for the cost of the park, but the town will not sign any contracts without having the funding in place.
So far the park is halfway through the three-year development plan, with some work being done through service projects and volunteer days for Wesley Chapel residents or anyone else interesting in helping. Three Boy Scouts have developed sections of the walking and bike trails throughout the park to receive their Eagle Scout honor, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.
The North Carolina Department of Fish and Wildlife also built a pier on the 2.4-acre pond at the park, with no cost to the town.
“Originally it had been discussed it was going to be a 25 percent contribution from the town, but we were fortunately able to get it at no cost,” Horvath said.
In addition to walking and biking trails and the pier, Dogwood Park also will have an amphitheater for community events.
To push development along the town plans to see at least one more Eagle Scout project help with the development of a biking trail and will hold more volunteer days for anyone interested.
Volunteer days will be held Feb. 23, March 9 and April 13, all Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the park where volunteers will work to clear brush and trees. Children under the age of 18 must have written parental permission to participate.