Development Authority discusses $1.4 million park
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
City officials presented to the Madison Downtown Development Authority a breakdown of monies committed to the new town park at its regular meeting last Tuesday.
Of $1.4 million pledged to the new greenspace, $150,000 has been spent on acquisitions; $960,000 of non-reserved monies have been pledged, but not spent; $105,000 in donations for various pieces of statuary have been pledge, collected, and spent; and approximately $155,000 in in-kind donations have been pledged to the park.
The update was presented so that DDA members could have a clear idea of what monies are available for development of the park, and how much further local fund raising may need to go. Advocates for the park acquired $1.4 million in pledges for the park when the proposed budget for the park was expected to by approximately $1.5 million; the actual cost may exceed that figure, as actual bid figures, as opposed to estimates, are presented to the DDA in the coming weeks.
Madison Planning Director Monica Callahan, who staffs the DDA, said that the group had spent about $30,000 so far on DOT permits, staking and silt fences, contract management, engineering and plans, and structural review and demolition work on the cottage that sits on the northwest corner of the park, as well as debt service for some property acquisition. In the coming days, the city will open bids for the construction of the curbing, gutters, and parking spaces on the perimeter of the park (this work, on city property as opposed to DDA-held land, will be paid for out of SPLOST monies); following that, a construction barrier for the park will be erected, and interior work on retaining walls, the cottage, and concrete work will begin in earnest.
But bids for those projects have not yet been solicited, so DDA members do not yet know what the final park cost will be.
“Certainly we want things to be built very robustly, we want [park structures] to last for many, many, many years,” said Madison City Manager David Nunn.
“But if there are places we can value-engineer the project and save money, we'll do that...we're trying to hold everything to a minimum.”
Of particular concerns are the sidewalks surrounding the park, the cost of which was not included in the original $1.5 million price tag for the “interior” portion of the park; and streetlights around the park.
Some SPLOST monies for projects on the city's right-of-way may yet be appropriated, “but we'll be scraping the bottom of the barrel,” said Nunn.
DDA members want to finalize a budget very soon so that they can determine whether further private funds can be raised or whether the DDA will need to finance any shortfall for construction of the park---or whether the City of Madison will contribute further funds to the final project.