Bids for construction of the city’s proposed six-field baseball and softball complex were presented to the City Council recently and the news wasn’t good. Five sealed bids were received and all of them far exceeded the cost estimates presented to the city over the last year.

Lubbock engineering firm Parkhill Smith and Cooper had presented estimates of $3.9 million, but the bids received ranged from a low of $4.6 million to a high of $5.7 million. PSC representative Brent Clifford told the council that the bids were higher than anticipated because of the high level of construction in the area.

“The contractors are all busy and they are having a hard time finding subcontractors for large projects,” Clifford said. The council had previously been told that contractors were “hungry” and would aggressively compete against each other, resulting in bids possibly below estimates. That wasn’t the case. Bids presented were from:

A committee reviewed each bid and scored them using criteria including base price, Superintendent’s resume, and subcontractors list. The committee scored Teinert Commercial as the favored bid. Clifford then informed them and negotiated their base price to $4,652,045.  Still $750,000 above the estimate, the council spent time whittling away at the project in an attempt to cut costs.

They changed the infields to a 4-inch base of clay, instead of 6-inch with a savings of $97,000 over the bid.  Another large savings  —   $105,000, was obtained simply by reducing the funds set aside in the bid for contingencies. That figure was lowered from $180,000 to $70,000.

Clifford said Teinert was comfortable the lesser number was sufficient for this project.  Several smaller changes included altering materials used for bleacher canopies and other building components for savings totaling just over $85,000.

Other options the council decided to keep in the plans were the fully finished paved parking lot with curb and gutter, press boxes at each field, privacy slatting in perimeter fencing, and security lighting. With the changes, the final bid came to $4,364,529, still more than $450,000 higher than the prior estimates.

Then the matter of paying for the facility was discussed without any definitive answers. “We have approved a $3 million bond, so we’re still $1.3 million over that, so where does the difference come from and what money is paying the bond back,” asked councilman Chuck Nave. Council member Judy Besler asked City Manager Eldon Jobe to outline how the city will pay for the ballfields.

“We are using $500,000 from HOT funds and the remainder will be paid using the city’s general fund and reserves,” he said. “If we get the ISF opened back up, that revenue will more than cover this expense.”

Besler asked if the city would have sufficient funds without the additional revenue from the ISF if that project doesn’t happen, to which he replied “yes.” Councilman Leon Pope urged the other members to think long term. “This is more than we thought we would spend, but what is the value of doing this for our kids?” he asked. Mary Valdonado agreed, saying “We’ve come too far to say no now.” She made the motion to approve the bid from Teinert Commercial, with a second from Ray McFarland, who added, “I’m in favor of moving forward.” The bid was approved unanimously.

Clifford told the council that Teinert expects construction to last 10 months. Demolition of the existing fields is already complete. This year’s baseball and softball seasons, administered by the YMCA, will be played on temporary fields and in Levelland, according to local director Eric Martinez.

“These programs are important for our youth and we are doing everything in our power to make sure they still get to play while the construction project happens,” he said. “Our older players are going to play their games in Levelland this season. They are being good neighbors and allowing us to play on their fields at no cost in order to help our leagues.”

Once Brownfield High School squads complete their seasons, local fields will be available for the YMCA league to finish the season in Brownfield, Martinez said. Parents interested in signing up can do so at the YMCA, 301 S. 1st Street during operating hours of 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Registration continues through February. Late registrants can still sign up in March.

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