The College Park City Council discussed plans for the Hollywood Gateway Park construction at its work session Tuesday night.
While the council decided to proceed with the project in May 2016, the original estimated cost of about $522,000 didn’t include expenditures such as design fees and land acquisitions, according to a memorandum to the mayor and council from City Planning Director Terry Schum. The estimated cost was updated in June 2017 to almost $803,000.
Bids range from roughly $870,000 to $1.4 million and are still under review, but the budget is estimated to need an additional $350,000 to accommodate the rising cost of steel due to recently imposed tariffs, Schum said at the meeting.
One way to eliminate a significant portion of the cost would be to eliminate renovations to the pavilion, Schum said. Redesigning the pavilion would cause the most delay, but doing away with it isn’t a perfect solution either, she said.
“Even to do that, there has to be some tweaking to plan, because there you have a structure built into the slope of the land, and you would have to change up the grading a little bit,” she said.
District 2 councilman P.J. Brennan opposed redesigning the pavilion, saying he believes the tariffs will eventually be lifted.
“It’s a very attractive design, it’s a landmark feature for the city, so I’m a little bit surprised that we’re … now just willing to get rid of that, because a lot of time and a lot of energy has gone into committing to that particular element,” he said, calling the pavilion the “crux of the investment in that property.”
Downsizing the existing structure would take the least amount of time, Schum said.
“It seems to me like a potentially interesting move might be … not to foreclose on the opportunity for a future pavilion, but proceed with relative speed on the design of the rest,” District 3 Councilman John Rigg said. “But I’m open to finding additional funds if my colleagues feel strongly about that.”
Another suggestion was to redirect money from renovation projects at Duvall Field and Hollywood Streetscape, taking $142,000 from the city’s anticipated fiscal 2019 Program Open Space allocation and $208,000 from the fiscal 2018 Developer Contribution — for capital projects in North College Park — that is currently allocated to these projects, according to the proposed fiscal 2019 budget.
City Manager Scott Somers warned against “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
“The argument could be made that improvements to Duvall Field and Hollywood Streetscape could have a greater positive benefit to the community than redirecting those funds to this park,” he said.
Kabir said he preferred to wait a few weeks for a cost estimate with cheaper materials, because it’s uncertain whether the cost of steel will decrease later on.
“If you wait … that may not necessarily bring down the cost of steel,” he said. “We have a little bit of uncertainty.”