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Valley parks official hopes extended deadline nets bids

Sat., June 6, 2009

Project fell under contractors’ radar

Spokane Valley Parks Director Mike Stone hopes an 11-day delay will ensure there are at least three bids Tuesday for construction of the city’s new Discovery Playground.

The playground in Mirabeau Point Park will have numerous features to make it accessible and appealing to people of all ages, with and without disabilities.

City officials delayed the bid opening, originally scheduled for May 29, after discovering the project hadn’t gotten contractors’ attention.

Stone said the first hint of trouble was when only three contractors showed up at a May 13 meeting to go over the bid specifications.

“Then we started hearing from contractors who said they had called some of the suppliers and found out they had not been getting any calls from contractors,” Stone said. “That’s not a good sign.”

He said city officials redoubled their efforts to get the word out.

They found three more contractors with interest in the project, two local and one from out of state delayed the bid opening until Tuesday.

“I’m feeling much better that, hopefully, we will get at least three bids,” Stone said.

He said a requirement for contractors to have experience with three projects similar in scope and price may have put off some bidders, but he thinks questions about some of the design elements were a bigger factor.

Some contractors may have to team up to satisfy the experience requirement, but “we wanted to make sure we get someone who understands and not who is trying it the first time,” Stone said.

The playground will fill three-fourths of an acre on a 2 ½-acre site in front of the CenterPlace Regional Event Center. With attractions designed to stimulate the senses, the playground will have a theme of “Exploring Eastern Washington.”

A “wavy walk” will allow people to experience the rolling hills of the Palouse, whether they are in wheelchairs or on foot. Kids can tumble down a miniature version of the hills if they wish, and people of all ages may want to slow down and smell the herb garden.

Stone said the playground is expected to cost $850,000 to $950,000.

He said he is “still very optimistic” that construction will get under way as scheduled in mid-July. The contractor will be allowed 180 working days, with exemptions for inclement weather, to finish the job.

“We anticipate, in all likelihood, that it will be completed sometime in April next year, although I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility of getting it done this year,” Stone said.

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