Park Committee: What has $5.5 Million Done?

The Park Review Committee met Tuesday evening at Blythewood Town hall in yet another attempt to reach a consensus on a recommendation to Town Council regarding what to do about the park construction left over by the last administration.

During his first town council meeting after being sworn into office Jan. 30, Mayor J. Michael Ross appointed the six-member committee to come up with a recommendation for Town Council at the end of eight weeks (March 26.)

Tom Utroska, the committee’s chair, has suggested in recent meetings that the committee has gone beyond what the mayor asked the committee to do.

“I would suggest we do the job we were asked to do – nothing more, nothing less,” Utroska said Tuesday night.

The agenda called for three questions to be discussed:

1) Using only the $5.5 million in bond funding, is there a ‘smart’ alternative to the current construction plan?

2) Are there changes to that plan that would make for a more usable, efficient Park?

3) When the current contractual work is completed, what will the Town have as a Park?

Town Councilman Paul Moscati, who serves as the liaison between the Town and contractors, listed at least some of the items that would and would not be included in the park if construction stopped at the $5.5 million mark.

Included in the $5.5 million price tag, according to Moscati, would be:

-Doko Manor completed;

-Some site work in place ;

-500 linear feet of sidewalk around the Doko Manor (but no other sidewalks);

-Some landscaping around the Doko Manor;

-Some drainage provisions for the formal gardens when they are built;

-The first layer of asphalt on the roads;

-2-acre lake;

-Dock on the 2-acre lake;

-Much of the underground work, including utilities;

-Temporary grass; and

-Some gutter work at the entrance.

Moscati said the following items are not included in the $5.5 million:

-Fountain in formal gardens;

-A good bit of the landscaping and irrigation is not included;

-Enclosures for dumpsters;

-Arbor;

-Rest rooms (could be traded for other items included in contract);

-Ballard lighting for nature walk;

-Clock tower;

-Amphitheater;

-Farmers market;

-Gates and miscellaneous items at the entrance;

-Second layer of asphalt on roads;

-Permanent (competition field) grass; and

-Sprayground;

Moscati’s list was not final, but he told the committee that he would have more definitive information in writing at their next meeting on June 19.

Moscati said there was some allowance money left in the construction contracts that could be combined with various trade-offs to fund such items as a concrete pad for the amphitheater or legs for the clock tower.

“It was never intended that we stop [building the park] at $5.5 million,” Moscati told the panel. “We always planned to go forward with the park by using the proceeds from the Community Center. We knew $5.5 million would not build this park. To indicate or imply that we would have a park after spending $5.5 million is not accurate. We have a start of a park after $5.5 million.”

Moscati said the total park had been estimated at $10.9 million and that that figure did not include the Depot or the Adventure Center.

“We thought that the Town would not have to fund those two items,” he said. “That’s still on the table.”

“I would like us to move forward,” Moscati told Utroska. “I don’t think we can stop after spending $5.5 million.

Utroska said he wants to see the total of what is already included in the $5.5 million portion of the park before going forward with more spending plans.

“We haven’t gotten the information about what we have gotten for the $5.5 million, but we keep talking about what we’re going to spend [on the park] in the future.

The next meeting of the park committee will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall on June 19.