Exploration Park Deferred

City Council Defers Construction on Exploration Park to Obtain Cost Savings
Posted on 07/25/2018
An image of Exploration ParkThe Mill Creek City Council deferred moving forward with construction of Exploration Park at its July 24 meeting. The decision was reached following review of bids for the project, which significantly exceeded the engineer’s estimate.

The City received two bids for construction in April 2018: one for $1,306,228 and one for $1,752,216. The engineer’s estimate was $1,078,983. Timing of the City’s bid in the midst of a construction boom was likely a factor for the higher-than-anticipated bids.

“To reduce construction costs, staff made the recommendation to Council to reject all current bids and reopen the project for bids by January 2019,” said Interim City Manager Bob Stowe. “Pushing out the timeline will provide the City with the opportunity to reduce costs on this project and ensure fiscal stewardship to Mill Creek residents.”

Councilmembers had expressed concern about project costs at the April 3 meeting, where preliminary cost estimates were identified for the entire project. The construction bids received exceeded even those estimates.

The 1.2 acre Exploration Park was dedicated to the City in 2006. Interim park improvements were constructed consisting of lawn, perimeter landscape beds and street trees. Geotechnical engineering analysis showed that the park is underlain with dense fill that has limited permeability resulting in a perched soil condition and soggy grass.

An extensive public involvement process was conducted in 2016 to develop a community park design. As a result of this process, the City’s Parks and Recreation Board recommended, and the Council adopted, a natural play park theme for the final improvements to Exploration Park. From 2016 through 2018, the City contracted with consultants for geotechnical studies to prepare the design and construction documents, and to advertise the project for bid.

The Exploration Park project design currently incorporates a berm with a built-in slide, short tunnel, rock scramble walls, beaver cave/den, climbing logs, wetland area with foot-bridge, concrete walking paths, benches, picnic tables and additional trees and shrubs. The project will include drainage improvements and play features consisting of two tall climbing boulders, a large climbing rope structure and a basket swing. Concrete walking paths and entrances to the park will meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

As part of the re-bid package, staff will pursue a contract amendment to revise the final design to include alternate bid items such as climbing boulders and climbing play features to provide additional cost saving measures if needed.